Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthday Weekend Update The First

On Friday, my parents took me (and K) out for a great dinner at Sfoglia. I hadn't had a nice dinner out in awhile, and this was an exemplary one, replete with a pre-meal bottle of Prosecco and five desserts for four people. Mmm.

There was another birthday dinner there the same night, a table of well-dressed people not much older than I. My father said he heard one of them congratulate the birthday girl on being 29. I thought for a moment about having enough money, and having friends with enough money, to go out to that kind of a restaurant for my birthday at the age of 29. I let the thought pass. And then yesterday it crossed my mind that more than one of those chic young Turks may have put her dinner (and her dress, too) on her credit card.

Tucked inside the cover of the cookbook they gave me (a great-looking one with a focus on technique, which I'm excited to peruse) was a check for $240 (that's 24, my age as of Saturday, times ten). The obvious thing to do with it is to save it in the Freedom Fund, but I don't want to. I'm really attached to the idea of the "no strings attached" Freedom Fund, the fact that it's all money I earned. Yes, I know that it doesn't matter at all, because spending this $240 just means that I free up other money to save in the Freedom Fund, but still, I find the idea of saving this money in that way kind of distasteful, somehow. So that check isn't going in the Freedom Fund. I think it will be spending money if I end up going to France in November (more on this later), or, if I don't, it will flesh out the Gift Fund for Christmas.

And, okay, the other birthday present is the coolest thing ever. It is a machine that makes seltzer. Now, you have to consider that I drink a ton of seltzer. I grew up drinking it, and I'm just sort of stuck on it. I didn't think I'd want to spend the money on it once I moved out on my own, but...I do. Can't go without it, somehow. So I end up buying 5-10 one-liter bottles (bigger bottles go flat) at my local supermarket for $.75 apiece, or, when I need seltzer but the market is closed, little bottles at the bodega for $1.25 a pop. But no longer! Now I can fill one of their proprietary bottles with cold water and carbonate it myself, and it costs me nothing. It came with two CO2 cartridges, which make 110 liters of seltzer and which you send away to be refilled once they're empty for $20 a pop, plus shipping. That means that exclusive of the machine (because I didn't pay for it), I'll be paying about $.27 per liter once I exhaust my current supply. And there's no schlepping, and it's environmentally friendly! I am in love with my seltzer machine. And if I'd bought it myself, that $130 (which includes four of their bottles and two CO2 cartridges) would have paid for itself slowly but surely in the savings on my seltzer habit.

K is pretty enamored of the machine, too. The joke goes like so: when we break up, he'll have to buy a seltzer machine, and I'll have to buy all the Six Feet Under DVDs.


Anonymous said...

when you break up? where is the optimism?

mfaorbust said...

Hi there! I found your blog a few days ago and just wanted to chime in that you're a pleasure to read. A lot of the personal finance blogs I visit are written from the perspective and in the style of much-older adults, so it's nice to read about someone around my age and income--and living in my city too!

On another note, I'm envious of your magic seltzer machine; both my boyfriend and I are carbonation addicts. We should really look into one!

Kim said...

My thoughts on birthday gifts of money:

Treat it like a gift card. Birthday Money (I think) should be spent on you, purely for fun. If you're REALLY strapped for cash (which I know you're not; not in a financial hardship way anyway), put it to "practical use." But I make a point of never spending birthday money on bills, food (unless it's a nice dinner out), gas, etc.

It's a gift. Treat it like one. If you want to put it into savings, ok...but your birthday is a time to splurge a little on yourself!

I usually take the cash and put it in an envelope marked "birthday money" so that when I see something I want (a new kitchen gadget, shoes, dress for a wedding, etc) I have money to get it. It's not "savings," but I'm not blowing it frivolously.

I sound a little contradictory -- basically, I'm saying to spend the money on yourself, whether it's now or in a few weeks/month. :-)

Strange Bird said...

Happy birthday! I have to say I never got into the seltzer habit myself. I was so relieved that it was so easy to buy flat water when I was in Europe last summer; everyone made me think it was impossible to find.

Sistah Ant said...

congrats on the cool presents and the cool dinner, and happy carbonation! i spend gift money on whatever i want to spend it on, and sometimes that means practical stuff. i'm okay with that. but i understand why you'd hesitate to commingle gift money with self-earned freedom money. have fun spending it!

PiggyBankBlues said...

happy birthday! that selzter machine sounds very cool. france sounds like a perfect place to spend your birthday money :)

VixenOnABudget said...

The seltzer machine sounds quite nifty.

GG said...

I've always thought there was something very refined about seltzer water--like it was for the upper class or something. I like it too, and I didn't grow up drinking it!

What's the cookbook? Do tell!

SF Money Musings said...

Happy belated birthday! The seltzer machine sounds very nifty! You'll have to share details on how the machine works out and the taste! I'd love to hear more about that cookbook.

Anonymous said...

Bronx Chica- happy belated birthday! Great gifts you have received! A check, machine, another memory added to your life,- what more can a girl want!

beth said...

I completely understand not wanting to put your birthday money into savings--and making your Freedom Fund solely money you have earned. I have a three-paycheck month coming up, and I won't even put extra money (other than the auto-deduct) into my Emergency Fund (same difference). I want that to be solely money I have saved regularly. This is not to say I'm not going to save the extra money, but not in *that* account.

Anonymous said...

Be warned that exchanging your empty SodaClub CO2 canister for a full one currently take 10-14 days — you either have to guess when you’re about to run out, or be resigned to going a while without seltzer. (You can't get a refill any other way.)

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