Tag Archives: spending

2016 Spending

Although I saved a substantial sum in 2016, I definitely overspent in many areas. It was the year of my wedding so even though my parents contributed a sizable sum to the event, I splurged and spent too much on it outside of their contribution. We did a small “mini moon” which also cost something, but in 2017 we will splurge on a bigger international honeymoon. Here is a quick overview of how my spending went into 2016…

Income (after tax and 401k): $112.4k
Spending: $81.2k
(remaining / savings: $31.2k + $18k  (401k) = $49.2k saved)

Auto & Transport: $5.1k
Bills & Utilities: $1.5k
Education: $2.2k
Entertainment: $1.37k
Fees: $443
Food: $11.7k (yikes)
Gifts: $1.67k
Health: $5.4k (not counting insurance)
Home (rent and home things): $17.3k
Personal Care: $4k
Shopping: $14.8k
Wedding: $9.6k
Travel: $6.2k Continue reading

Biggest Purchases in My Life

I’m turning 32 in a few months, and I’m looking at my overall networth and if it could be higher right now if I had not made some “big” purchases. Really, though, it would be higher if I didn’t make all of the small purchases!

  • $17,000 – second car, paid for all cash (used from a dealer) — I don’t love this car, I wish I picked another, but it’s fine and safe
  • $16,000 – stock in private company (purchased stock options), worth $0 today (insert frown face here)
  • $10,000 – DUI fine, legal fees, et al. Worst expenditure in my life, for many reasons.
  • $8000 – first car, paid for all cash (used from a craigslist seller) — lasted me about 7 years, was a great car (V6!) and I miss it; probably could have lasted longer but it ended up not starting and getting towed from my parking space, wasn’t worth paying to get it out of the pound. Should have been able to sell it for at least $1000, so that was a waste.
  • $4500 – invisible braces, cosmetic and somewhat health related, so far worth it but I wish it wasn’t so expensive!
  • $4000 – “unlimited” laser hair removal — WORTH IT — though the place changed owners and “unlimited” was more like “limited”

Those are really all of my big purchases in life thus far outside of college and my annual rent ($16,200 a year for my share of a 1br.) Oh, and of course about $300k in actual stock… I guess you can say that’s a purchase.

Looking at spending $40k+ on my wedding in comparison seems kind of nutso, even if my parents are contributing a large chunk of that.

What are the biggest purchases you’ve made in your life?

Confessions of a Deranged Shopaholic – HECC Edition

My Broken Coin — a fellow personal finance blogger — wrote a post on how she spent $8600 on shopping in 2012. That led me to checking out my own stats to see how much I spent on shopping last year.

$17,617!!!
$9164.78 on clothing(!)
$4,456.99 on “shopping general” (mostly Amazon.com, yikes)
$1,272.98 on “sporting goods” (camping stuff for my vacation)
$858.67 on makeup
$811.76 on hobbies
$187.81 on electronics

That’s ridiculous as it doesn’t even include my food costs. Now, I choose to live in a place where rent is $650 / month with roommates so I can afford the overrages of my shopping addiction, but I’m not sure that even adds up anymore. A 1br apartment that’s comparatively nice to my current shared 3br would cost me $1800 a month minimum, and in this location probably more like $2200. So I could spend $18600 more in rent, or, well, clearly I can spend that all on clothes, makeup and household items. Or I can just force myself not to shop for anything other than necessities for a year. Continue reading

Q3 Spending Breakdown: $13,620.56

From July to September, my spending was a little ridiculous. It all started with the DUI, which cost me $3,000 in legal fees even before the big fine that will hit in Q4. The other large expense of the quarter was my Canon 5D plus a flash for it. Photography is an expensive hobby. I did manage to also spend $1082 on clothes and other shopping… how did that happen? Yikes. (see the graph below.)


Unfortunately the legal fees and DUI fees will continue to take a toll on Q4. I have $750 more left in the legal fees, and expect a $2,000 fine. The good news is that I have a chance to obtain $10,000 total in bonuses for this year, which should help me up my networth, and instead will go towards my stupidity. My income this year including bonuses will be a minimum of $95k.  That helps. I’m really trying hard to prove myself at work so I can move up the career (and salary ladder) but it’s pretty clear that I’m still learning as I go, and things take me longer than they should. I can only hope I can prove myself going forward.

 

 

 

2009: A Year in Personal Fiscal Review

2009 was an incredible year for be in terms of income. Since graduating college in 2005, I had at most made $30k per year, with months of the year usually dedicated to unemployment sans unemployment checks and freelancing to fill in the gaps. As much as 2009 was not a perfect year, my income this year hit approx. $70k before tax. So I made more than double what I’ve ever made before. That’s the good news.

My spending also increased in 2009. I spent $35k this last year, according to Mint. This included unnecessary splurges which I likely rewarded myself due to my promotion. Next year, I’m going to create a budget and stick to it, as my goal is to save 30% of my after-tax income, about $15,000 assuming my income remains the same (which odds are it won’t). I’d really like to save $20,000 next year, but to do that I’d really have to force myself to be frugal. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something I’ve never done before. I might try, especially with Mint’s budget tool and my new iPhone helping me keep my finances in check each month.

To save $20,000 in 2009, I’d have to save $1,667 each month. Assuming my take-home pre-tax pay is $66,000 (which I like to pretend is $33,000 after taxes) I have $2,750 a month to spend. That leaves me with just $1,083 a month of spending money if I really want to save $1,667 per month. Again, this is certainly possible. I’m really inspired by blogs like Under $1000 a Month because if a family of 4 can live off less than $1,000 a month (!!!) then so can I. Right?

Well, I’m not sure I can. My mental health therapy is expensive, as are the meds I will likely be on in 2010. That’s my biggest cost that I’m not willing to give up. I’ve already cut back on voice lessons, though I’m taking a dance class which is $60 / month. And my car may become a wreck in 2010 (with 170k miles on it, I don’t know how much longer it will last) which could mess up the whole savings thing.

I figure I have $800 in set costs (rent, bills, gym, car insurance) and then anything else on top of that which is vital… food, gas, new tires, etc. All-in-all it doesn’t seem like I can live on less than $1,000 a month. Well, I could, but that would mean NO therapy and no dance lessons (and definitely no laser hair removal package, which I’m almost sure I am going to purchase in early 2010 for $300 / month over 12 months.)

My goal for 2010, though, is to seek out ways to live frugally, besides my set expenses, so I can save a lot. Maybe not $20,000, but it’s not so bad to make that my goal. I’ll aim to save $1,667 a month and budget for this as possible. If I can increase my annual income with additional freelance work, all the better. I count my interest in as well, so if my stocks happen to perform well and my P2P accounts happen to stop defaulting, I might hit this goal. Who knows. I do want to focus on keeping my budget in check. If I can save AT LEAST $1,200 a month in 2012, my networth will hit $50k, which is really my main goal for 2010. I read somewhere that at 30 your savings should be at the amount you want to live on for one year of retirement. I’d like $80k a year in retirement, so I want to hit $80k in savings by 30. Which is going to get totally messed up by my potentially going to grad school… but it won’t exactly help matters if I’m out of a job either.

Anyway, here’s to 2010 being prosperous and smart for me and for everyone out there reading this little blog of mine. 🙂

How to Save Money Shopping for Laser Hair Removal

I’m not one to splurge on treatments at any place referring to itself as a “spa,” so the fact that the past week or so included visits to about 5 different of these establishments might seem perplexing to anyone who knows me. But for the first time in my life, I can afford to purchase laser hair removal.
It’s not cheap. It’s not even close to cheap. It sets me further away from the seemingly-impossible dream of one day owning a house. To get everything done that I want to get treated, it will likely add up to about $7000. And that’s probably only considered half done. I won’t be completely hair free. But even a 50% reduction is worth it. Or at least I feel like it is.
But spending $7000 is better than spending $10k for the same treatment, and the only way to figure out how to get the best price is to shop around and really haggle. I hate haggling, especially with anyone who, if hired for the job, will soon be pointing a laser at my vagina. I’m hoping that these businesses are used to a hard sell, and they’ll treat me the same as someone paying more if I happen to “win” a more “affordable” package.
Still, it makes me nervous. I’ve been to consultations at 4 different medspas and I have one more set up this week. Besides the price difference, there’s also a ton of other variables — which laser do they use? Alexandrite? Diode? Yag? Is it Candela GentleLASE, Lumenis LightSheer, Cynosure Elite or Apogee? And then, who does the procedure? Do they know what they are doing? What if they leave half way through the treatment package (it takes about 1 year since you go back every 6-8 weeks for a treatment)? What if the medspa goes out of business? Do they offer financing? Does financing make sense? How do I know the practitioner isn’t jipping me — using too low of a setting so I will need to come back for many more treatments to finish up? What if they burn me and I still have $2000 of treatments left to follow up with? Ugh, too many variables, and that’s why this makes me so very nervous.
Last year, after going to two consultations I jumped on a package deal at one spa. I spent $420 for 5 underarm treatments (which is still, I feel, a good price for the area) and $1680 for 8 treatments for full face without my forehead (which is fine, I don’t have hair on my forehead at least, thank goodness.) The place I go to for these treatments uses the Candela GentleLASE, which I read is best for my type of skin (III – IV with dark hair) as the Alexandrite supposedly gets more of the finer hairs than the LightSheer, which I also considered. Oh, and I’ve also spent about $40 on numbing cream so far, can’t forget to add that into the total. So I’ve spent $2120 so far on my attempts to be hair free.
They say that after 6-10 treatments you should see about 80% reduction of hair growth, or more, or less, depending on how messed up you are hormonally. Since I’m pretty messed up, I’m concerned this won’t work at all in the long term.
So far I’ve had 3 treatments done on my underarms — and so far they are much easier to shave and I have to shave much less frequently. It’s really great because my underarm flesh is so pasty and my hair is so, so dark that it always looks like I haven’t shaved my pits even if I just cut them so close they’re bleeding. Underarms are definitely worth it. I’ve only had one treatment on my face so far and besides being quite painful in some sensitive areas (by my ear, upper sideburns, mustache right inside my nostrils (you don’t want to know what that smells like)). However, the results on my face thus far make it all worth it. I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) so I have, well, somewhat of a beard. It isn’t exactly a beard, it’s more or less random spots where I have a patch of thick hair that grows in. Being OCD doesn’t help because I’m constantly tweezing out the hairs, leaving my skin a wreck. When I first was interested in doing laser hair removal, I wanted to do just my face. But I was worried about how my skin would react so I figured armpits would be a good place to test first, and it wouldn’t hurt to have less hair under there anyway.
Now, I’m ready to get zapped even more. But not without shopping around first. It’s really a pain in the ass to drive around the entire area to go to consult after consult, trying to get prices and figure out which clinic makes the most sense. There’s one spa, the one I went to my first consult at, where I like the RN and she really wants me to go there, I can tell. She’s willing to negotiate on price — likely she’ll match the price I find elsewhere if I can find somewhere that uses the same laser (LightSheer) with a lower price. Well, I did… I found another spa in the area that currently is running a 50% all packages deal if you buy 2 or more packages. The numbers add up nicely even though they still ain’t cheap.
I could just go to this place with the discount, but I kind of feel like I should at least let this first woman have a shot at giving me a good price. It also turns out that her spa is a block from my office so it’s much more convenient for going back for multiple treatments. But I don’t mind driving if it means saving hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Ultimately, though, it’s important to pick the right laser for me. I don’t want to spend $5000 instead of $7000, where the laser doesn’t get the fine hairs that the other one would have zapped for good.
There’s another clinic up in the city that has a decent price for certain body parts, I’m trying to figure out how I can mix and match different treatment sites and body areas so I get the best deal without driving myself too nuts (where was my appointment today? – I’d be asking myself as I drove 30 minutes in the wrong direction). But, in the end, it all comes down to playing hardball, and not being willing to settle. Laser Hair Removal “spas” or “medspas” or whatever you want to call the practices are really in it to make the most money off you that they can. They already spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on their laser, and they need to use it as much as possible before the technology is obsolete. They sell a single treatment, they’re probably not going to see the person again. But they sell a package, that’s a good $1000 to pay off the machine and then profit on it. The more they can make off of you the better, but if they can get $5000 instead of $7000 they want vs. having to start from scratch courting another customer, some places may budge. If they’re too eager to budge, then you have to start wondering about quality. As long as you get a recommendation for the place (from someone you know or an online site like Yelp), you should be ok.
I still can’t believe I’m about to spend $5000 more on laser hair removal, but I also am fantasizing about the day I can wear a bathing suit and not worry about my full-body five o’clock shadow!

Spending Addiction vs. Earning Addiction

Unlike most of the personal finance bloggers out there, I’m more of a spender than saver. That admitted, I limit my spending as to not put myself in debt. I still save, or at the least, break even without dipping into my savings.

It’s hard, as an adult, to spend “correctly.” This year my biggest purchases — other than my trip to Bloomingdales last weekend and my new favorite $600 leather jacket and updated fall wardrobe — were laser hair removal and a few classes at my local community college. I probably spent too little in terms of health (with company health insurance and an HSA, I have yet to dip into my company’s $100/month contribution. It’s extra retirement savings for me, right?)
I do need to write a post on the latest health insurance debacle in the US government, but for now I’m just updating about my spending habits, and how I’m going to stop being ashamed of them, but really try to get them in check.
The good news is that I’m earning a lot this year. My general rule is that whatever I make as base salary for the year for my full time job, I need to try my best to do some side projects here and there in my spare time to cover for any splurges. For instance, I write for a blog (usually at 7am before I head into the office for the day) and make anywhere from $200 – $500 a month doing that. So in a year or so, if I hit the $500 target, that covers… at least some of my splurges. Which makes me feel better about those few days a year when I go to the mall and feed my addiction.
On one hand, I feel guilty for even being able to spend so much. And I have finance voices in my head saying — save the money. But — with the stock market recovery and my investing heavily earlier this year, I’m above my net worth for the close out of 2008 already. I could save more. Everyone can always save more. There has to be a line one draws between saving and spending, and I still don’t have a clue where that line should be. I love shopping, I love fashion, and I admit I spent about $1000 total revamping my wardrobe so now it’s complete with leggings, long t-shirts, and 3 new pairs of shoes that fit both with the trends and my long-term fashion aesthetics, plus my new jacket that I am in love with.
Laser hair removal is even more expensive, but it makes me happy. It’s not a necessity, I will live without it, but being hair free is something I’ve dreamt about all my life. I’m really hairy even after one day of shaving. It puts a damper on my otherwise great relationship. If my legs are prickly intimacy limited to kissing.
So this year, I’ve invested in myself. And I feel like I should continue to do that, within reason. After all, I’m an adult, an adult without children (for the time being) and I ought to spend on myself a bit before there’s other things to worry about… a house payments, school tuition, etc. It’s hard to really understand the concept of saving when you’re not in debt. How much should I be saving? I’m not sure. I try to make my networth go up a bit each year. I’m hoping as my income increases (if it increases) over my lifetime that will be easier. But who knows. I’m a little lost. But I’m not too lost, and I for once feel like I’m in control of my finances, the control I have is obtained by spending within reason, not by saving. Saving is a byproduct of limiting my splurges.

Mint.com and My Year-Over-Year Progress

I’m the first to admit that I fail when it comes to acing the test on smart shopper and saver. Over the past two years I’ve grown wiser and more careful with my purchases, but I’ll splurge more often than not.

That’s why it’s especially rewarding to use the Mint.com trends tool to compare my spending habits month and, even more importantly, year to year.

Using the tends tool, I can easily see how much I spent in any 12 month period.

From June 2007 to June 2008, I spent $37,455. That was when I was making about $35k for the whole year, mind you.

In the past 12 months, from Jan of 2008 to the end of Jan of 2009, I’ve spent $30,523. My income has gone up and my spending has dropped over $7k. I am very proud of this and hope I can continue on my not-so-frugal living within my means path.

Looking at 2008, I spent $29,916 total. The biggest expense over this year was “home,” with $10,553 going to rent and moving expenses.

2008 Spending Chart

Home: $10,553
($879 a month)

Shopping: $4,633
($386 a month)

Food: $2,734
($228 a mont)

Auto/Gas: $2,211
($184 a month)

Entertainment: $1,969
($164 a month)

Bills: $1,737
($144.75 a month)

Gifts: $331
($27 a month)

Business Services(?): $399
($33 a month)

Education: $560
($46 a month)

Travel: $1269
($106 a month)

Health & Fitness: $1,660
($138 a month)

Fees: $238
($20 a month)

Uncategorized: $1,048

I’ve Got $7 in my pocket…

I’m a person of extremes. I eat basically nothing, or, alternately, everything in site. I work my ass off and stay up all night to get projects done, perfectly, or I barely lift a finger. Same goes for my finances. It’s not the healthiest way of living, but it sure works a charm when I’m on the more positive end of it.

This month, I’ve been extremely frugal. Well, not in the sense of purchasing two pairs of jeans. One, my favorite brand, was on sale at the local mall for $100 and I couldn’t resist. I actually thought it was another style, which I realized it wasn’t, so I promptly went on eBay and bought a “slightly damaged” pair of the ones I actually wanted for $70. Given that the original pair I bought last year cost me $170 for one, I felt good about setting up this two-for-one designer jeans deal.

Regardless, that was really my only big spend in the past month. I’ve also been frugal about eating, in ways I probably shouldn’t be. I tend to go for as long as possible without buying food. Around the house, that’s fine, I still have some random frozen things and tuna. But I’m never home. At work, sometimes I’ll work straight through lunch, and live off the various snacks in the office. Lucky for me, at least my work provides some granola bar-type things. Still, not healthy for mealtime, but I survive.

I’ll be posting my January spending charts soon. Lately, I thought about making a goal to reach $50k in Net Worth by the end of the year. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s obtainable. I need to see what my Net Worth is after taxes this year, and then make a plan. I may not be in debt, but I can still live like I’m getting out of debt, so I can one day buy a house.

Eating Addicitions vs. Spending Addictions

There are many similarities between a shopping addiction and eating addiction, or any other addiction for that matter. Mostly, you are ashamed of your addiction. You want to do it alone. You feel some sort of power in that you’re doing it alone, that you have control over this one thing in your life, despite it being so out of control.

I feel very fortunate to not have any “other” addictions beyond eating and shopping – those are enough to handle on their own. I’m also very fortunate to not have a gene where my weight balloons regardless of how much I eat. My eating addition shows, but at 150lbs I’m more unhealthy inside than out.

For shopping, it’s my credit card bill that gets “fat.” I purposefully lost my credit card last month to stop myself. It’s not that I spend and spend, it’s just that the idea of having a credit card is that you can pay for something later. That little psychological switch makes rationality hard to grasp. It’s easy to buy something here and something else there, and before you know it you owe quite a bit of money. You need financial weight watchers.

This year, I really want to focus on getting healthy in both of these areas. Last night, I was bad. I came home and ate an entire box of bagel bites. Alone, those 500 calories would not be the end of the world, I probably hadn’t eaten more than 1000 calories earlier in the day. But then my roommate offered me a box of Oreos. I never buy Oreos for myself, and I love them so much, and I couldn’t resist.

One thing I’m looking forward to in life is moving in with my boyfriend. While we both have an eating addiction, we both realize that the worst thing to do is have food like that in the house. I’m excited about splitting the grocery bill and cooking for both of us when we live together.

How do you evade temptation?