Tag Archives: growingup

March Groceries — $169.90, now on my new Chase Freedom card

My Chase Freedom and American Express Blue Cash cards both arrived in the mail today. While I’m terrified of credit cards, I’ve decided it’s about time to really start building my credit score. I have a bunch of open credit cards and according to a recent credit check I’m in the 730 range, but I still want to up that credit score so one day when I want to buy a house (or condo) I can get a good mortgage rate.

Anyway, I finally gave in and got these two credit cards. I don’t know if they’ll help or hurt my credit score, but I’m going to start spending on them each month and paying off my balances at the end of the month. I’ll only buy what I can afford. Period.

So I went food shopping today. At the “cheaper” (aka non-organic, non fancy) supermarket in town. Safeway. I spent $169.99. I supposedly saved $41.34 on buying things one sale w/ my “club card.” I did spend extra time picking out things on sale.

I went a little overboard on buying spices this month, but I don’t really have any spices and if I’m going to start cooking more, I need some more spices. I tried to buy ones that were on sale! Thank goodness for credit cards.

Without further ado, here’s what I got for that $169.99

$1.39 – Jumbo Taco Shells
$1.11 – Canned Corn
$3.89 – Cooking Spray (non brand Pam)
$3.69 – Paprika (spice)
$3.29 – Bread Cracker Stuff
$3.27 – Spice Island Mustard (spice)
$3.75 – Thyme (spice)
$3.99 – spinach tortellini
$3.99 – three cheese tortellini
$3.73 – garlic powder (spice)
$2.71 – basil (spice)
$3.00 – butternut squash soup
$5.00 – 4 Tuna Salad Lunch
$.99 – plastic spoons
$1.66 – steamed vegetables (frozen)
$5.29 – kashi lime shrimp frozen dinner
$4.99 – liquid egg whites
$2.50 – shredded cheddar cheese
$2.69 – fat free milk
$4.49 – cottage cheese
$2.49 – lowfat yogurt
$5.49 – frozen strawberries
$4.50 – frozen blueberries
$3.49 – frozen quesadillas
$3.00 – frozen veggie bites
$9.00 – three boxes of morningstar frozen meatless buffalo wings
$1.39 – banquet fish stick meal
$6.76 – four cheese and beans burritos (frozen)
$5.00 – two cheese quesadillas (frozen)
$3.99 – a fitness magazine. To inspire me to workout.
$3.39 – bread
$4.00 – frozen fried fish
$2.50 – frozen fish
$2.50 – frozen fish
$5.99 – stuffed salmon frozen
$6.23 – Rockfish Fillet (not frozen)
$3.45 – five kiwis
$2.45 – three sweet potatoes
$2.00 – raisin boxes
$2.00 – two bags of baby carrots
$2.99 – bag of four avocados
$2.99 – veggie turkey slices
$7.98 – two boxes of veggie buffalo wings (non frozen)
$3.00 – blueberries (non frozen)
$3.99 – vegetable mix
$3.50 – cheese whole wheat tortellini

Should I Splurge on an Air Conditioner?

The past two summers in my Silicon Valley studio sans air conditioning have been painful. I can’t sleep when it’s hot in my room, and boy did it get hot in my room. But, being frugal as I am, I sucked it up and dealt with the heat, only to be consoled by two fans that just blew more hot air in my face.

Every summer I put off buying an air conditioner until it’s too late — all the stores have sold out of the ones that I’d want.

Reasons I Should Buy An Air Conditioner

– It gets so hot in my apartment that I have trouble sleeping in the spring/summertime.
– In my current apartment, my electricity bill is included in my rent, and I don’t think there is any rule against using an air conditioner (though they can bill you for “excess electricity usage” whatever that means).
– I work from home 2-3 days a week, and it’s difficult to focus when it’s so hot.
– Every summer by the time August rolls around I am desperate for an air
conditioner, but all the good ones are sold out.

Reasons I Shouldn’t Buy An Air Conditioner

– Air conditioners are expensive
– In my current apartment I’d have to get a portable air conditioner since I don’t have the right kind of windows for a window air conditioner, and those are even more expensive
– Next year I might move out of this apartment, and likely the next place I get will not be “utilities included” so my electricity bill will go up greatly in the summer, if I move.
– So many people live without air conditioners, even in hotter climates. Do I really need an air conditioner?
– I have no idea what air conditioner I should get, as there are many options and they all seem to be imperfect. The window air conditioners would be nice as they’re cheaper, but my windows won’t hold them. The portable air conditioners are gigantic and ugly, AND expensive. Like $500 for the cheaper ones.

So… tell me my readers, should I buy an air conditioner for this summer?

Woman in Charge: family finance for one day down the road

My mom never calls me to see how I’m doing. The only time I’ll hear from her is to tell me that some show is on PBS that I should watch or that there’s something else of interest to her that isn’t really of interest to me at all, yet she thinks I should know about it anyway.

The last one of these conversations had to do with Suze Orman’s book “Women and Money ” that Oprah gave away for free (via PDF download) a few weeks ago. My mom e-mailed me about the book download and then followed up immediately when I called her later on that day “did you download the book yet?”

Ok, so Suze Orman’s books and blab have provided me with some useful finance advice in the past. But at this point I know all the basics about finance and that I should save money and invest it as opposed to spend all I make.

My mom is so clueless when it comes to money. Part of it is a generational thing and part of it is a chosen “ignorance is bliss” ideology. She’s always spent as if the bank account had no end. Now that I know how finances work, I don’t really understand just how she did it. Even though my father made a good salary, it was only in the low six figures… which is a lot, but not nearly enough to spend the way she did, or so it seems. My mom would order things from QVC without worrying about the cost. Jewelry, mostly, although sometimes she’d buy appliances and things. She wouldn’t go to the mall and spend like that, but because it was on TV she could. Well, that was her excuse.

Granted, she did work hard as a stay-at-home housewife for many years, and she deserved some of the finer things in life. She put up with my father who, despite being a good breadwinner, wasn’t the best husband.

Now, though, my mom is in her late 40s and my dad is out of money for a few years. He retired early and his pension plan doesn’t kick in quite yet. My mom doesn’t get what having “no money” means. Well, that’s mostly because my dad has kept her in the dark about our financial situation over the years. She doesn’t know how much money he has in savings, or what that means for their retirement.

Knowing my dad, he has a good amount of money available for retirement. After all, he made a career out of designing pension plans for other workers. I’m sure his pension is solid, when he will get it. Still, it’s completely astonishing to me that my mom has no idea how much money they’ll have in retirement, or how much money they have now, other than “no money,” which could mean just about anything coming from my father.

My situation is so much different. Sure, right now I’m at the very start of my financial journey and I’m just learning how to save and invest. Without being able to control the markets, even if I make all the “right” choices I might still end up back where I started or worse. But at least I feel that now I’m in control of my finances. I know that if I can save a certain amount per year and invest it, if the market goes along as expected over the long haul, I’ll be able to save a certain amount of money for my retirement.

This makes me feel powerful. It also makes me focus just a little too much on money. Making money has become a bit of an obsession. As a freelancer, it’s easy to sign up for one too many projects. Who needs sleep, right?

But the way I look at it, the more I can make today, the more I have to spend later on. That’s true, regardless of what I have to do to get there.

Now, my boyfriend, he finally got himself a job and he’s making money. He spends less than me because he doesn’t have to pay rent (he lives at home) and he doesn’t really buy many clothes. When he does, he doesn’t splurge on designer anything. He still dresses nicely, but he has a very limited wardrobe. Two pairs of jeans, and a bunch of button down dress shirts. That’s pretty much all he wears. Oh, and two sweatshirts from his college and some really old shirts and shorts that he’ll wear to the gym and such.

His spending right now pretty much revolves around me. If we go out to dinner, he often pays. I used to feel bad about this, but now that all this saving money thing is a game, and as I’m paying so much in rent and clothes and products to look pretty (for him, mostly) I feel less bad about having him pay for food more often than not. Even though I’m “making” more money at my job.

My boyfriend is not at all interested in investing or finance. The other day I excitedly told him all about mutual funds and index funds and such, and he was bored to death. His mother has saved up enough money to send him to grad school one day which is, as far as I know, sitting in a fairly low-interest savings account right now. He makes money and although he spends a lot on us eating out and gadgets for himself, I’m sure he’s still making more than he’s spending right now. But he puts it all into his savings account.

I tried to get him excited about opening a ROTH IRA and told him about how hard it is to afford retirement these days, but he wasn’t interested.

Now, if this is the guy I’m going to marry, which right now I think might be the case, I feel like I have a right to not only inform him of these options, but push him down the path of opening an IRA and starting to save for retirement.

I guess, in the long run, if only one person in my couple hood is going to understand finances and save for retirement, I want it to be me. I don’t want to be like my mother, clueless and hopeless as it is. If I’m going to spend a lot of money, at least I want to have a solid grasp on what that means for my monthly contribution to my ROTH.

I keep telling my mom she should get a job. If she wants to keep living her lifestyle, it isn’t so hard, even if dad says they’re out of money. Get a part-time job and viola, some extra income which she can spend as she pleases. But she refuses, saying she’s too busy. She’s dealing with this whole fight with the school system about my sister’s education (my sister has a learning disability and the school isn’t giving her the appropriate accommodations) and otherwise she’s too busy doing other things… like, oh I don’t know, cleaning the house… no one in our house helps out with laundry or dishes, so that’s all her. Still, I think she ought to get a job. My dad is retired now, he can start helping out with some of the chores around the house. If my mom was working, maybe he’d be inspired to do so.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to make sure that I know the nitty gritty of personal finance. Even if my significant other choses to remain somewhat oblivious to how he can save for retirement, I refuse to let life take me for an unfortunate ride.

For the past few years, my net worth has gone up and down between $25k and $30k. Right now I’m at about $27k. My goal is to stop going down, and to break that $30k by summer.

Psychology of Overspending: Buying Happiness

Check out the awesome interview with me over at LuluGal’s HowISaveMoney.net in her weekly “meet the blogger” series!

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Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve been awful with my finances this last month.

I auditioned for this fashion assistant reality show that will air on CW and, prior to the casting, I used it as an excuse to spend way too much money on new clothes that I mostly didn’t need.

The good news is I returned the things that I’ll likely never wear. I’ve definitely passed my days of fearing going to a store and returning an item. Even though 59% of the time a return ends up equaling another purchase (just keep me away from the mall, ok?) I’ve gotten better about returning without buying something else, or buying something much cheaper to quench my spending arousal without bursting my budget.

Realizing that this need for spending is so deeply routed in my depressed childhood, well, it makes me want to spend a little less.

I think I’ve written about this briefly before, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately.

I was such a loner as a kid. I was “cootie girl” / odd girl out. I still am a bit of an oddball, but I’ve found my niche, I think. As a kid, it was unbearable.

All that made me feel good in life were compliments. Some of those compliments I’d earn from drawing a picture or something, but the easiest way I found to earn compliments was to wear something that would get me noticed.

Going to the store to shop was me the kid in a candy store. And my mom let me get pretty much everything I wanted. I didn’t buy super expensive clothes, but at a fairly affordable department store like JcPenny, I could easily spend $500-$700 in one visit. I just bought a lot of things. My mom told me that if something fit I should buy a few pairs and have it in every color it comes in, even if I didn’t like those colors.

Then we got home and my dad, who was making the money, would throw a fit about our spending. I felt guilty about that. It was, partially, my fault. That, I think, was one of the major rifts that formed between my parents early in their marriage. They shouldn’t have been together in the first place, but without that shared understanding about finances, it couldn’t work (yes they’re still married and, no, they shouldn’t be.)

As I grew up, the idea about buying happiness stayed.

I remember in middle school spending hundreds of dollars of my parent’s money to buy my “friends” smallish $10 gifts. My friends was anyone I knew, I really, hoping that if I bought them some cute earrings they might like me a little more. I think maybe they did. I didn’t get nearly the same amount of gifts in return, but then I was so naive and didn’t realize that others at my own school didn’t have the same sort of disposable income that my family did. Besides, people who I knew but weren’t close friends with weren’t going to get me gifts. Still, I liked the surprise they got when I gave them a gift. I thought for a milisecond, maybe they even liked me. And that was worth more than all the money in the world.

Nowadays, my biggest cause of overspending is the infamous “SALE” sign. I love feeling like I got a good bargain, as it gets me off in so many ways. First of all, I got to buy something (score) and secondly I got that something of preferably great quality for a large percentage off. The schadenfreude spot of my brain is laughing to itself and saying, with a Dr. Evil voice and pinky finger to my mouth – “hahahahahah, someone else actually spent $300 on this while I’m getting it for just $100!”

The problem, obviously, is that $100 is a lot of money and after a few items at $100 or $70, it adds up. Maybe not to what I would have spent on the original item at the department store, but I usually end up spending more on sales than when I go to a department store and buy one item at full price.

The only way I keep my spending in control now is by avoiding use of my credit card at all costs. But I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I want to start building my credit history aggressively, and I’m also getting fed up with the crappy rewards that my bank of america debit card offers (keep the change is kind of cute, but I’m not saving much with it.)

So I decided to sign up for some new credit cards.

I FEAR credit cards because I’m terrible at paying bills at times. I always end up with a late fee on a bill of $30 that ends up costing more than the actual bill.

OK, so I’m going to pay these bills on time, once I start using my new credit cards.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Chase Freedom Card and one of the American Express cashback cards (as soon as I remember the name I’ll write it here.) I was reading about them on another frugal bloggers blog (as soon as I remember the name of where I’ll add it here too).

So I never realized how much money I could save just by using a credit card for purchases, especially now that I’m spending quite a bit of money a year. I still can’t put my largest purchase, my rent, on my credit card, but I can start saving by buying gas, clothes, food and other things on a CC. Sweet. I like me some savings.

For those of you interested in figuring out what credit card(s) would be best for you, I recommend checking out the Cash Back Credit Card calculator over at askmrcreditcard.com — it seemes really helpful. I think it’s accurate.

I’ll be writing a more thorough post about credit cards and my cash back rewards in the future… once I actually get the cards, that is.

Immortality, Death, and Retirement Planning

The other day, my boyfriend and I were discussing death and immortality. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in this blog before, but I have a huge fear of death. I’m not a religious person and the concept of just not existing anymore scares the shit out of me. While I know it’s not possible to live forever, I get past my morality-anxiety by pretending like perhaps there will be some cure to every illness known to man (including old age) by the time I’m wrinkled like a prune and somehow I can live forever.

Why do I bring all that up? Even though we (and I) can’t live forever, our society is all geared around helping us live longer. In the early 20th century, the worldwide life expectancy for a human was 30-40 years old. Now it’s 67. In another 100 years, most people will probably be livin to at least their 90s.

That’s great in terms of… well, getting to stick around, aware, on this planet for a few extra years and for medical science as a whole, but how does lengthening one’s life mess with the concept of retirement?

Ok, so in one of my days of freaking out about my mortality I ended up doing some research into Cryogenics and started reading up on a place where for a shit load of money I could get frozen after I die and maybe, just maybe somehow in the future I could be brought back, alive.

That got me thinking… if ultimately many of us would want to live forever… if that’s what all our medical science is working towards with stem cell research and such, well, at what point in our future will the concept of retirement simply vanish?

Retirement exists, as I see it, for two reasons. One – you get old, you just can’t work as much as you once did because you’re sick a lot and need to take it easy en route to death. Two, you worked a long(ish), hard life and it’s time to sit back and enjoy the last few years you have on this earth. Either way, what’s that worth if you can remain healthy forever.

It’s kind of interesting, thinking about how much our culture would change if immortality were possible, and then how much it has changed simply due to medical advances and the increase in average life expectancy. If we could live forever, even the celebrity making billions upon billions of dollars would still have to be careful with how much money they spent because if life forever were possible, at some point money would run out.

So death, not too far along from birth, is really a requirement for the concept of retirement to work (sorry I’m being so morbid today folks, but it’s just been on my mind a lot lately).

Also, there have been a bunch of articles and blog posts out in the past week or so about how retirement is impossible for many people these days, what with the cost of inflation and lack of appropriate savings.

The Motley Fool recently published an article called “The End of Retirement“inspired by the also-recent PBS Frontline series “Can You Afford to Retire?

Well, the Fool was pitching its investment advice for sale (as it does in every article on that site) but it also pointed out some of the sad yet very real facts raised in the Frontline documentary. “[Thanks to how people of different wealth classes invest throughout their lives…] The richest people are getting richer, and the middle-class workers are falling further behind.

I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle, though lean towards the rich end of the spectrum. While I feel like I’ve just struck gold with my newly minted annual salary of over $60k (if I can hold this contract job for the whole year, mind you), after you take away taxes… including the lovely 15% self-employment tax I learned about the other day, my healthcare expenses, the fact that as a contractor I don’t get time off, paid holidays or any other benefits, and suddenly my $60k seems not as much as it did when I first gladly accepted my offer (well, I asked for $200 a month more, then accepted the offer).

It’s weird how two years ago I was thrilled to be making $35k, finally a year out of undergrad with a full-time job. Now, as I worry more about saving for retirement in my 20s and somehow saving up for a house (even a fairly decent downpayment on a house… in The Bay Area) and possibly an expensive MFA a few years down the line, I am not sure how much money I’d need to make in order to really feel, well, rich.

Yet I know I’m lucky and that I’m more rich than a lot of people will ever be.

I want to invest heavily towards my retirement and I already have $7000 put into my Roth IRA of a total $9000 I could invest since I opened my account. Not bad, but that was taking my savings and putting most of it into that Roth IRA. Well, it’s nice to know that if I make it to 65 I’ll at least have some money to take out, tax free. But what about now? What about that house… or 2br condo… that I’m dreaming of? How about grad school?

Other than knowing I ought to live more frugally overall, I haven’t a clue about how to allocate my money. They say “max out your IRA first” (if you don’t have a 401(k) and that sounds fine and dandy, but now that I’m a slightly higher tax bracket I’m not even sure if I should be investing in my Roth IRA or if now I ought to open up a traditional IRA that gets taxed later on. Ugh, I’m so confused.

Llama Money jokes about how the $1 million saved up for retirement isn’t really enough anymore, and explains how to save up $1 billion by retirement instead in this post.

“If you start investing at the ripe young age of 26 ( that’s how old I’ll be in a few months ), then you have 34 long years to enjoy the magic of compound interest. Assuming you earn an average return of 10% per year ( shouldn’t be difficult if you stick with low-cost index funds ), then you must save $308,700 per month until age 60. At that point you will have just over $1 billion in your brokerage account.”

Yikes! Um, I don’t think I’ll be able to save $309k per month anytime soon, or ever.

Llama poses that putting away $280 a month is enough to at least help you out financially at retirement.

The only thing that helps me worry less is knowing that I’m the type of person who won’t want to retire. I can’t imagine wanting to stop working just because I’m old. I’ll want to work a more flexible job, maybe take a bunch of time off, travel the world. But I don’t see why I should stop earning an income as long as my health allows.

And being that I’m 24, I can’t imagine myself incapacitated to the point where I’d be forced to live off my IRA income and nothing else. If that’s what’s going to happen, well, I better figure out how to start, uh, making $339k a month so I can save the $309k. Yea right.

10 Reasons Why I Love My Freelance Job

I work for a web startup in Silicon Valley on contract, about 40 hours per week.

10 Reasons I love My Job:

1) The people I work with are passionate, fun, and great collaborators working together to create something new.

2) My job tasks are diversified and include many things I’m interested in, such as writing, community management, UI, and QA.

3) The room to grow at my company is only limited by my skills and interests.

4) I get paid a very decent monthly wage for the opportunity to do something I love.

5) Because I’m on contract, I get the flexibility I need to pursue my other passion: theater directing in the evenings and on weekends. I’ve applied for numerous web startups, but most wanted me full time at 60+ hours a week. If I had no life outside of my job, I’d be happy to take this on. However, I need to have balance in my life. I don’t mind sacrificing company-sponsored benefit plans, sick days, holidays and stock options if it means I can keep doing what I love AND have a job I love.

6) While I don’t have a lot of time to do “other freelance projects,” I have a few hours a week that I can move around to take on some extra work. I like to continue freelancing on additional projects because it’s always good to have side income in case your full-time (or in my case, 40 hour per week freelance) gig goes kaput.

7) Free lunch on Mondays!

8) I feel appreciated. My ideas are not always used, but at least they’re considered. People seem to respect me. That’s the most important thing in making me feel satisfied at a job.

9) Flexible schedule and work location. I work from the office 2-3 days per week and I work from home the rest of the time. I find I actually do more work when I’m at home because I can focus. I’m also not anxious like I was at former jobs where I just didn’t feel smart/competent/knowledgeable enough to feel comfortable yet still challenged in the position(s).

10) My job is a great stepping stone to whatever comes next. I’m learning so much, and I learn more every day. As a writer, I’m still involved in research and finding out new things. As a community manager, I get to do my favorite thing ever – help people. Is it so absolutely bizarre that I actually love responding to customer feedback and writing FAQs? Being involved in QA, I’m learning a lot about testing a site for bugs. In general as a marketing assistant and such, I’m learning a bit about product management and general marketing for a web startup. I think all of this puts me in a great spot to move on to bigger and better things later in life, whether that be a position with more responsibility at my current company or something else. A while back I applied to a community manager position at another startup and it came down to me and someone else. I didn’t get the gig, probably because my journalism experience wouldn’t directly cross over to interacting with site users on a daily basis. But now… my resume can potentially land me another community management job, if I ever need to look for another one down the line.

The Most Depressing Article Ever

StackingPennies left me a comment on my post earlier today where I rambled on and on about making babies and marriage and such. While most of my peers seem to not share in hearing the baby-making clock, it seems many are thinking more about marriage (soon!) than popping out the kidlets.

I wanted to clarify a few things about the other entry first… Kacie mentioned something about not taking hormonal bcp’s to make me more fertile. To sum up why that won’t work — I don’t get my period ever unless I’m on BCPs. To make me ovulate will require expensive hormone injections and such. So for me, making a baby will be a large expense. There’s nothing much I can do about that.

Now, onto the real reason I’m writing another entry this evening…

StackingPennies posted a link to an article in The Atlantic titled “Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough!”

(Gosh, if Pennies thought my noting that I’m “deprecating into womanhood” was depressing, I’m not so sure how s/he felt about this article.)

The author, a single mother in her late 30s, uses four pages to convince her reader that settling, especially at such an old age, is the better thing to do than to live alone forever. Forget love or attraction, really. A marriage is a business agreement. Find someone you can stand, who maybe you enjoy spending time with, and that’s the best you can ask for, especially when you’ve passed your prime.

I’m glad that at 24, I’ve found a guy who I love, and as long as things continue to work out, I won’t have to deal with settling. One thing that I applaud myself for is my ability to be rational about love. I don’t expect “Mr. Right” to never veer to have his, uh, Mr. Left moments. There are plenty things that bug me about my boyfriend, but ultimately I feel comfortable with him. I’m attracted to him. And I’m head over heals in love with him.

But not to the point of being so romantically in love that I can’t see how our relationship would develop as we moved on to sharing our lives together. There are things that would be a bit of a struggle… dealing with compromising on finances… how to raise the children (I’d want to shelter them a bit more than he would). But in the end, I feel like we’d get along just fine. My biggest concern is what happens if he passes away first. I know, morbid thought, but if that’s my biggest concern than I’d say this is a pretty darned good relationship.

I don’t think people should ever “settle,” but I do think both men and women should have realistic expectations of what love is. So many people want someone to fit this mold they’ve invented of their soul mate. That doesn’t exist. Or maybe it seems like it does, but then you realize he leaves the toilet seat up.

My life is currently fantastic because I’ve found the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with. We could be rich, we could be poor. We could have 10 children or none. But as long as I have him there beside me through it all, I know I’ll be fine.

On the other hand, it’s not all that healthy to put that much weight on one relationship. My relationship experience isn’t all that varied, yet I think I know what I’m looking for. I’ve been on a lot of first dates, and have been in a few LTRs. I think that, while love at first sight is a joke, there is a such truth to knowing a year or so into a relationship if it’s meant to be.

Maybe I’ll have to settle with everything else in my life, but not love. That’s one thing I refuse to settle for. Thanks to luck, fate, or whatever brought me to California and helped me meet my boyfriend, I won’t have to

Having Kids… a 24 Year Old Gal Ponders the Cost and The Timeline

I’m only 24 years old. My body is slowly deprecating into womanhood. In fact, once upon a time I’d be in middle age right now. Except in modern society, 24 isn’t quite “that old” yet.

Still, my babymaking clock is ticking. (Do you hear it — “tick, tock. tick, tock.”) A few years ago if you asked me about the possibility of my having a family, I’d say yea, one day. Like a zillion million light years down the road.

But how long can one really wait to have kids and a family? Is it even really that important to have kids?

Speaking in simple terms of evolution, it’s quite normal to want to have kids. Heck, I should be wanting to pop out babies every change I can get from now through menopause.

The truth is, with my undoubted infertility problems (thanks PCOS!) the cost of simply getting pregnant/ having a kid is going to be very high for me. I’ll either need expensive fertility treatments that may or may not work, or I’ll have to adopt. Both of these options are expensive. It’s just like, great, take something that should be free (semen in, baby out) and make it cost a fortune before I even can so much can justify purchasing a pregnancy test.

Without all of that extra expense, having kids, well, is quite the expense. How much does one kid cost? You’ve got to feed them, clothe them, house them, bathe them, pay for school supplies, parties, hobbies, potentially college, etc etc. That sounds very expensive. Of course, lots of people just accept that having a kid is a worthwhile investment. Not to get money in return, but to get years of “awws” and “ooohs” and “that’s my son/daughter!” But how much is all that really worth?

You can have kids at any income level or age (if you can pop them out without needing expensive treatments to get pregnant in the first place.) Plenty of people have kids who live on welfare. Plenty of people have kids who are in the upper class, who can give their kids tons of money and not think twice about it. Plenty of people who have kids are in the middle class, and they get by with minimal luxuries and mostly just what they need.

I grew up with such a bizarre concept of family and money. My dad made a good salary, my mom stayed at home. We lived an upper middle class life. My parents had two kids, me and my younger sister. We never bought expensive things, but we did buy lots of things. There was never a concern about not having money to put food on the table, or to buy new clothes for the season. I was lucky. I didn’t realize just how lucky I was.

Would I want to have kids if I couldn’t give them that? Could I be selfless enough to bring another person into this world knowing just how much they’d cost me? I’d have to get better health insurance for my kids, or would I? I couldn’t have catastrophic health insurance with a child… though that’s better than no health insurance at all that many people deal with. How much money would I really need to make, over the long term, to feel comfortable popping out a baby or two?

I have friends who had kids years ago, or who are just starting families. One friend from high school just got his girlfriend pregnant accidentally, and they’re moving out of the city to the burbs and are planning on having her parents help them support the family.

Another friend of mine is in her mid 30s. She kind of wants to have kids, she makes a pretty good income, upper middle classish, but hasn’t found the right guy yet. Or at least she hasn’t found the right guy who wants to date her back, sadly. She knows that at this point in her life, she’s either going to have kids soon or not have them at all. She tries to laugh it off, but deep down I think she’s sad about it.

I know some people in their 30s who just don’t want kids. Some are in stable relationships, some are married and have just decided – no children. What does it feel like to make that decision and make it so finally?

I’ve mentioned before how my ex boyfriend is a well-to-do attorney and how sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have stayed in that relationship and lived… that life. What it would be like to know that unless something terrible happened to the country and the overall economy, I’d be financially secure until I die, and I could have kids and they’d have a good life, regardless of how much money I made personally.

Back before my time, that’s all a girl could even ask for. But now we have choice. We have freedom. And that’s great. I’m glad. I’d rather be with a guy I love than one making good money. But it’s tough when the choice is actually there. When the guy making the money still likes you. When you like him back too, but only as a friend.

It’s not like my current boyfriend isn’t working. That was the case for a while and after a year of dating an unemployed guy it started to get to me. It wasn’t even the money that was an issue, it was the sheer depression keeping him out of getting a job. While my previous boyfriend worked all the time and wanted to make a lot of money, and save it, my current boyfriend just wanted to live at home, somewhat frugally, until his savings ran out. Both lifestyles kind of drove me nuts.

But now my boyfriend has a job. He’s doing a good job with working and I’m sure he’ll do fine. He’s likely going to return to grad school for education and end up teaching at a high school. I’m confident if he is “the one” (and I think he might be) that without kids, we’d both live a very comfortable life given our expected middle class income. When I start thinking about having kids, well, that’s when I get worried.

I always wanted to have three kids. I thought that would be a good amount. My dad grew up in a large family (6 siblings including him) and I loved how that later on created such a tight-knit extended family. I don’t want six kids (oy!) but 3 would do. I don’t want a kid to grow up alone, and one sibling is nice but often not enough. Three is perfect. Except, oh my god, how much would three kids cost me?

My Boyfriend’s Birthday is Coming Up…

And I’m at a loss for what to get him.

The good news is that with the raise, I’ll be able to spend a decent sum of money on his gift without feeling like the expenditure is a completely irrational budget departure.

The bad news is that my raise won’t kick in until March 20, a few weeks after his birthday. I get paid once a month, fyi. I will get one more paycheck before his birthday for $3300. But $1050 of that has to go to rent, and $600 must go to my “for tax” ING account. That still leave me with about $1500 for the month. Even with my various bills, I could try to keep spending down really low and figure his birthday gift is worth more than any splurges I might partake in over the month.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t know WHAT to get him.

I feel like I need to get him something amazing. I totally flaked on Valentine’s Day this year and got him, well, nothing. For Christmas I gave him a $100 gift certificate to a rollerblading store so he could buy a pair of Blades (he did and he seems to like them).

How do I get him something better than last year’s gift? Last year, I got him a Nintendo Wii. Without spending a zillion dollars, well, what do I get the boy?

He’s gotten me such great gifts over our dating tenure. An ipod nano and a Wacom digital drawing tablet. He got me a smaller gift for Hannukah… a food scale… I figure it cost $30 or something. But for Valentine’s Day he bought food for a home cooked dinner… fish and champagne. Again, I got him noting. Absolutely nothing.

So what do I get him this year? I have less than a month to figure this out. I love him more than anything and I know he’d be fine with me getting him dirt in the shape of a heart, but I want to give him more than that. I want to get him something he wouldn’t normally buy for himself. But what would that be? He’s so hard to shop for.

What do nerdy boys like?

For the Love of Theatre

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, guys. I’ve been extremely busy casting a play that I’m directing at a local community theater. Rehearsals start next week, so every moment I’m not working on one of my freelance projects, I’m figuring out things like blocking, character intention, etc.

The good news is that I’m getting paid $500 to direct this play. Most fo that will go to gas money and gifts for the actors and such, but I might even end up with a small profit I can pocket in the end.

Theater has an interesting relationship with my life. Admittedly, it holds me back from my career at times. Most jobs require that you have a flexible schedule, with evenings free for occasional long hours or overnight trips. Even my current job, which if it were full time, would be 60 hours per week, would require me to give up theater.

Every time I have to make my passion versus job decision, I cannot. Given my inability to make such a compromise, things have turned out quite well – at least for the time being. As a freelance writer with a fairly-stable part-time writing gig, I have the flexibility to direct a show in the evenings and work… during the day and in the even later evenings.

I’ve often thought about returning to graduate school for theater directing. But those $100k three-year programs seems like a terrible idea, at least financially. I was hoping my mutual fund and stocks would somehow add some of those funds to my account, but given the dismal performance of the stock market I’m actually losing money right now. Lots of it. Well, about $1035 of it to date, and most of that’s from my mutual fund.

My goal in the back of my mind is still to save up $100k by the time I turn 30 (which is in only 5.5 years, omg) and then apply to grad school for directing *OR* buy a house. If I can even save that much, that will be a tough decision to make. And as you’ve already learned from this entry, I’m no good at making decisions!