Friday, March 28, 2008

You Must Change Your Life

Yesterday I bought two domain names. I bought forwarding for one of them to the other. I signed up for another monthly bill: web hosting at Laughing Squid, which has a great reputation and a "starving artists" discount.

I am embarking on something. I am so excited. I do not know, quite, how all of these things are going to get paid for, and the extra monthly bill is not in my budget. But. I have money in the bank, and there comes a time when you can't any more not do the thing that is pressing out of you from inside, somewhere inside the rib cage and the spinal column, jerking you upright on the subway.

You must change your life. And this is why I've saved hard for the last year and a half, so that when I want to do something like I want to do this thing that I've begun to do for real, I can do it.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Money Memories

Meg did an interesting post yesterday about money memories from her childhood. I thought I'd add a few of my own--and I'd love to hear about yours, too.

I don't have very many memories of money in early childhood, which may be weird in and of itself.

I remember feeling like a pauper in the upstate community where my parents rented a house for a few summers. I don't know how I got that feeling--possibly because my parents had it?--but I remember knowing that the other kids were rich, and we weren't rich (not in this context, anyway). I took riding lessons with a bunch of friends at a nearby stable, and when I got along well with the horse I was riding, which belonged to one of the friends, she offered, casually, to sell him to me. A thousand dollars, she said. I made budgets and business plans for earning that money for months.

I remember my mom dropping me off at school for all-day play rehearsals, handing me a $10 bill, and telling me to get lunch with my friends. I remember how much freedom it suddenly felt like I had.

I remember being super into keeping imaginary books when my friend and I played this game in which we owned a pet-sitting business--like, making up prices and creating and then reconciling a full set of accounts in a speckled Mead composition book.

But other than this stuff, I don't have many memories of money before, say, age 13--my money consciousness flamed into existence when I started getting to run my own life a little more: take the subway (one of my big scams in high school was promising my parents I'd take a taxi home, accepting their $20 for this purpose, and then using it on whatever I felt like and taking the subway home), buy my own lunch, arrange my own social life, etc. Right there is where I became really conscious of money, for better and for worse (let's just say I wasn't the world's most frugal teenager). I wonder if that lack of money memory has anything to do with my ongoing confusion about the state of my parents' finances, and my parents' own attitudes towards money. I also wonder if this blank slate is part of the reason that I find it easy to deal with money now: everything is easier when it's not loaded down with emotional baggage.

What do you remember?


Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring is for New Beginnings

I was at my aunt and uncle's for Easter yesterday, and was struck by how much pride in and respect for the older generation has for me and my cousins. In the smoky, crowded kitchen, the champagne flowing freely, my mother talking about parenting teenagers to an old family friend, I felt a safety net there: if there were ever a disaster, I could rely on these kind people, all these people who love me, to help me in whatever way they might be able.

It gives me a little leeway to take risks.

Today I sent off a project to the director of development at the company at which I'm being considered for a job. It's sort of an audition-project, in the stead of a second round of interviews. It's probably not the absolute pinnacle of my abilities--I'm coming down with something, and was a bit fuzzy-headed while finishing it--but I'm proud of my work, and since I've already been told that I'm a strong contender, I think there's a solid shot that I'll get an offer from this company. (And if I do, I think there's a solid shot that it'd be $10K more than I make now.)

And there's a project of mine, a personal-slash-professional one, that's pressing on me, growing more urgent. I'm almost ready to raid my savings account to get it going. Almost. You'll know when I do.

It's almost spring; I'm young and smart; good things are coming.


The Gift

So, on Friday, I had two pints of tasty, tasty Blue Moon, one flaming shot of...something, half a cheeseburger and fries, and a tequila shot. I didn't pay a dime for any of them. Nevertheless, I still got home with zero of the forty smackers I set out with.

Here's how it happened: on Friday, I went out with K and some friends of his, to a bar that at first blush seemed somewhat blah and Midtown-y. I wasn't looking forward to $6 and $7 pints. And even after my tasty edamame salad, I was getting hungry, because we got a late start. Anyway, K's friend greets us and absolutely refuses to let K pay for our first round of drinks. Or our second. He swears that he and the bartenders are buddies, that the bartender will take care of us. I thought he was straight lying; isn't that always a lie? I was sitting there tipsily thinking about money and status and generosity, and if and how this guy could afford to buy us all so many drinks.

Evidently, though, it's not always a lie: four rounds of drinks for six people, including two of flaming shots (I only partook of one), mysteriously came to $30 on K's friend's tab. Hmmm. Um. Okay. If you insist. We did have to pay for the burger we split, though: K paid cheerfully, because what's $14 for six drinks and a burger?

And his friend paid cheerfully for our cab ride down to the club we were headed to next, for the same reason. I was all ready to pay cheerfully for K and me to get in ($5/person), but he beat me to it. And then I didn't really feel like another drink would be necessary just yet, so I hung around talking and thinking about how cool it would be if I got home with both of those crisp twenties still in my wallet.

And then, whilst K and I were hanging around outside, canoodling a little and waiting for our mutual friend to show up, one of K's friends, who'd been joyously drunk-enthusiastic when we'd last seen her inside just a few moments before, came stumbling out of the club in tears. I guess she'd just hit her limit, hard, to bathetic effect. Right about then, the mutual friend showed up, took in the chaos, and very helpfully assisted me in manhandling the young lady in question into a taxi, shoving money into her hands (we each contributed a twenty--this girl lives in Flushing. It would be Queens, you know?)

So we went back into the club for awhile, and the newly arrived mutual friend bought herself, K, and me each a tequila shot for our troubles.

And then it was late and we were far from the subway and K had to wake up early the next morning to go snowboarding, so I treated him (mostly!) to a cab ride home.

(The drunk friend left her phone in the cab, by the way, and the cabdriver called K and me at 3 a.m., after I'd cut K's thumb open with our kitchen scissors whilst over-cavalierly snipping the club entry bracelet off him, offering to drive the phone up to our East Harlem apartment from Houston Street if we'd pay the fare. Hell no; not after I paid the first fare!--Besides, we were out of cash.)

And the moral of the story is: it's good to have the gift of befriending bartenders, and it's good to be nice to your friends, and it's good to go out and get smashed on flaming shots every now and again.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Frugal Food: Edamame and Feta Salad

Knowing I was going out for drinks with K and some of his friends tonight and yet tired and not inclined to cook, I whipped up this little salad last night with what I had in the house. I cooked up some frozen edamame quickly (three to five minutes in boiling water is all it takes), crumbled in some feta cheese, and grilled a chicken sausage to slice in, too. If I'd had some leftover grilled chicken handy, that would have been perfect, as would some thin slices of red onion, but I used what I had. I topped the salad off with a tablespoon of vinaigrette from the container I keep in the fridge, and hey, presto: a tasty, nutritious afternoon snack that will keep me from having to buy (and eat) greasy bar food.

Process: Mix ingredients together. Eat.

About a cup and a half of frozen edamame, blanched. I get the shelled kind--they're much cheaper, $1.29 for a bag at Whole Foods (Trader Joe's is always sold out). This is about a third to half the bag, so let's say $.60.
About an ounce of feta cheese. We'd just picked up a pound of feta at Kalustyan's: it was $7, so 1 oz would cost $.44.
One chicken sausage. This came from a pack of five that cost me $4 at Trader Joe's. Again, you could certainly do leftover grilled chicken here (I think it would be better, actually), but my version cost me $.80.
A tablespoon of vinaigrette. The price is too negligible to calculate, so I'll give a guesstimate of $.10. I make my own, and just keep it in the fridge for times like these.

So the grand total is $1.94. Pretty frugal, wouldn't you say? Again, in a perfect world, this salad would have thin slices of red onion, but even so, you're not exactly breaking the bank--especially because in a perfect world, it would have grilled chicken rather than chicken sausage, and that would be cheap enough to make up for the onion.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hipster Mortgage Night

Without actually confessing to being a hipster ('cause I'm not; want to make something of it? Me and my PBR will meet you outside), let me just say that I'm psyched to hear about Hipster Mortgage Night. There's an event in Williamsburg one week from today, and the organizers have cited an interest in "help[ing] the city's creative class house itself," which--yeah. Freelancers, artists, and creatives of all kinds could avoid being priced out of "our" neighborhoods if we could/would buy up the real estate. The organizers promise to "show you what current listings your money can buy."

I kind of know the answer to that question already ("A run-down studio in Backwater, Queens, if I'm lucky!"), but I'm considering going anyway. You could, too: the link above has details.



So, this colleague of mine--an editor who works across the hall from me--keeps offering to buy me coffee. I don't want coffee. Nevertheless, today, I said, "Sure, I'll take coffee today." I accepted even though I didn't want coffee because he came over to my door and said, "[English Major]? I keep asking, and you keep saying no--" and I kind of felt like it had been a bad idea to say no a bunch of times, like I was blocking his attempts at building a rapport. Nevertheless, I'm not too much of an afternoon coffee drinker--and the coffee from the coffee shop downstairs, much as I love the guys who work there, is appreciably worse than my home brew. So...I'm probably not going to drink this cup of coffee he just brought me. Was it super-weird, then, to accept it?


Calcium, Chocolate, and Cash

Among my various endocrine issues (seriously, if you have a functional endocrine system, give thanks) is osteopenia (mild depletion of bone mass). To maintain my bone mass, I have to take a calcium supplement (with Vitamin D2, so as to make sure I actually absorb the stuff, which is probably the problem in the first place). Have you ever taken a calcium supplement? By and large, they're nasty: big, chalky, mouth-coating, gag-inducing tabs of grossness.

Except for Adora. I found these by accident--wonderful, serendipitous accident, when I was shopping for cheesecake-making supplies at Whole Foods. They were featured in an aisle endcap, and K went, "Calcium! You take that!" and then my calcium-supplement-taking was revolutionized. Because, you see, Adora calcium supplements are calcium in chocolate.

Yes, the chocolates are a wee bit gritty. And yes, they have a few more calories than a normal calcium supplement, so you sort of have to think of them as food. And--here's where it gets relevant--naturally, the Adora supplements are more expensive than the gross supplements: about $6 for thirty tabs (thus, about $12 for a month's supply).

The great thing about the Adora chocolates, though, is that because taking them is not actively a chore, I actually do take them--regularly. I ran out of that first package a couple of weeks ago, and my supplement-taking reverted to the very sporadic. I have a really hard time making myself put those things in my mouth, because of their high level of grossness. So yesterday, having not taken a chalk-tab in like two weeks, I stopped into Whole Foods and bought another bag of Adoras.

Much as I would like to change my habits and my behaviors, much as I would like to say, "Yes, I will take the gross calcium supplements twice every day to save $6 or so per month," I think the best thing I can do here is work with myself, and say, "Yes, it is worth it for me to spend that extra $6 or so, even though spending $12 every month on calcium supplements is not my idea of a good time, to make sure that I actually take the stuff I'm supposed to take so that my bones don't disintegrate." So that, I think, is the conclusion: Boo, gross chalky calcium tabs! Yay, calcium chocolates!

(Though, actually, before I get too set in my calcium-chocolate ways, I should try those Viactiv chews and see if they're palatable--they're much cheaper.)


Monday, March 17, 2008

Safety Nets for Corporations

I sucked NPR into my head during my last moments of sleep today and had a weird dream about Bear Stearns crashing--except, in my dream, there was a bear. The roaring, mauling kind.

And on waking up and hearing the whole story, I find that I agree with Paul Krugman's op-ed in today's Times: let it correct--let it go. Let Bear Stears deal with the consequences. (It also makes me vaguely insane to listen to the "free market! regulation is repression!" mantra turn into government-funded bailouts. I thought you didn't want the government all up in your business!)


Friday, March 14, 2008

When I Am Grown Up

When I am grown up I will keep a cake in my kitchen, frosted and everything, on a domed cake plate, and then, when I want to make a friend, I can say, "Would you like to come over for a slice of cake?" When I am grown up, my kitchen will also feature a windowbox garden of herbs and a cheese plate (three or four excellent specimens, replenished weekly). (And I will always wash out my French press, so that the grounds don't sit around.)

I find it weird that I can be so specific and so sure about wanting this--a cake in a cake plate, herbs, cheese--but not about what job I want, what city I want, the broad strokes of how one spends one's life.

Translating the kitchen fantasy, what I want is this: not to be too hurried, to have time to spend contentedly alone, to have an ever-expanding circle of friends, to have a home of my own of which I am proud and to which I am attached.

And lately, I've been exercising my brain a wee bit more, and I want these things, too: interesting things to think about, interesting people with whom to think and talk, no fluorescent lights anywhere.

Frankly, I am growing more and more sure that what I want to be when I am grown up is an English professor.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Upstairs at the Bouley Bakery

Mapgirl wrote about her nice dinner out, so I can write about mine, too, right? Right. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

My dad, who was lonely because my mom is in L.A., offered to take me out to dinner, and remembered exactly where I've been wanting to go--Upstairs at the Bouley Bakery. (He'd been meaning to try it, too: he doesn't eat meat, and it's a heavily fish-based menu, which is always fun for him.) My dad and I have kind of a camaraderie about restaurants: he loves them, really a lot--he loves trying new things and making up his mind about them, and because my mom's restaurant preferences are different (she likes neighborhood places where she can find food she wants done really well), I've accompanied my dad on a lot of his more esoteric forays.

Anyway, Upstairs at the Bouley Bakery is, sensibly enough, directly upstairs from the Bouley Bakery. It's a small, somewhat cramped room, but bright and cozy, and the chefs work behind an open counter, so you can see (and smell!) all the cooking. As soon as we got upstairs, we were greeted by the floor manager, who was making jokes with a customer who was waiting to be seated--there's a lot of jostling around the entrance--and I recognized a girl who'd been in my graduating class at school. Small world! (We definitely had an extra-good meal because of her, and not just because she comped us dessert.)

We started with appetizers of hamachi (yellowtail) salad and black cod. The cod was good--softly cooked, buttery, paired with fine-diced mushrooms and seaweed--but the hamachi was great, a little composed salad with fish, diced tomatoes and cucumbers, and frisee in a miso dressing. Then we did the sashimi omakase appetizer: two pieces each of five kinds of fish. The choices were pretty standard (tuna, salmon, octopus, and two white pieces--I can never tell soft white fish apart), but it was really good fish, super-fresh--each piece bright and complex in flavor, luscious in texture. I always think butter should taste like fresh raw fish. The only weak spot was the octopus--something weird was going on with the texture. It was almost crunchy. (I thought maybe it had been acid-cured, like in a ceviche.)

Entrees: Scallops for me, halibut for my dad. I got the better end of this bargain, I think, though I'd been considering the halibut (which was perfectly good, and had a nice, bright sauce of corn and peas). The scallops were perfectly seared--they'd been frayed a little, so that the crunchy, flavorful sear crept a little further into the crosshatched crown than it otherwise would have (without overcooking the rest of the scallop!), which meant extra goodness. The sauce was the real revelation: peas and mixed seasonal mushrooms in coconut milk and ginger--mindblowingly good. Sauces like that one are the reason we go to restaurants--who can do that stuff at home? Not me. Definitely not me. Perfect.

My friend the waitress brought us dessert on the house: I had this incredible bowl of mandarin orange (the same as a clementine? I can never figure it out) segments in elderflower gelee with two little scoops of sorbet (lemony-buttermilky)--I've never had a dessert that refreshing; it was almost a palate-cleanser. I asked my friend, but she said the chefs won't even tell the staff what's in it. The other dessert was a delicious hazelnut terrine--a nice combination of textures, but not as interesting as my dessert--with blackberry sorbet and pralined pecans.

What a great meal!

When I googled the restaurant, I read mixed reports of the service, but I thought it was by far the best I've had at a dinner out (other than at Orso, but that's because my dad's a regular) in a long, long time. The floor manager remembered my name and came by frequently to ask how things were, and seemed genuinely interested in how we were liking our food. When I didn't like the Riesling I'd ordered (too sweet, not enough finish), he happily swapped it for a Sauvignon Blanc and took it off the bill--so kind!

There is a personal-finance upshot here, I promise. You can easily get out of this restaurant for $90 for two people (if you skipped appetizers or desserts, or split one of both), which is a very fair price for a great meal at a lovely restaurant and tons of personal attention. The majority of entrees are priced under $20--some as low as $13--and they only sell wine by the glass, so no pressure to buy an expensive bottle. Most importantly, I can't imagine the great staff being cold or even rude based on the fact that you're eating a cheaper meal (skipping appetizers and/or dessert), and that counts for a lot.

130 West Broadway, no reservations.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's Nice to Dream: What I Would Do With $2 Million

Ms. M&P asked what I'd do with $2 million in lottery winnings. Just for fun, let's say that's $2 million after taxes.

Here's what I'd do, in this order:
$200,000, 10% right off the top, would go to good causes.
$50,000 would find its merry way to my emergency fund, to sit in cash and not be touched unless necessary.
$250,000 would buy my parents a nice place upstate.
$250,000 would buy me an apartment wherever I end up going to graduate school.
$250,000 would buy my sister her first home (unless it's in New York!).
(That's a million right there: charity, emergencies, and three houses. Those are my priorities, evidently.)
$100,000 would pay off the relatively small mortgage my parents have on their apartment.
$20,000 would bring my dream wardrobe home to my real-life closet.
$20,000 would send me and my sister on an incredible vacation next summer. We'd start in Berlin and take trains to Moscow by way of wherever we felt like going, then get on the Trans-Mongolian Railway to Beijing via a couple of weeks in Ulaan Baatar.
$15,000 would pay for my parents' next summer in Italy.
$5,000 would buy my friends, beloved unto me, presents and definitely several rounds of top-shelf drinks
$40,000 would be stashed in a for-spending-because-I-won-the-lottery fund.

And as to the remaining $800,000? Stick it in a mutual fund where it belongs, and call retirement taken care of. If I never invested another dime and the stock market only returned 6% after taxes for the next forty-one years, I'd still have nearly $10 million at age 65.

What would you do?


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rethinking a Recession Portfolio

When you buy stock, your money becomes imaginary. You don't have it anymore--you have, instead, a share of stock, which you will eventually sell at a market rate later. It's like any other investment object, really, except less tangible. The asset is the stock, not the money.

To that end, I think I should start thinking of my investments, for the time being, not as an ever-declining balance, but as an ever-increasing number of shares of stock. It will help me to see the real truth of the "you're buying stock on sale!" argument and remind me that I am still making progress, even if the balance is dropping, dropping, dropping.

To that end, I have the following shares:

Fidelity Freedom 2050 Fund: 317.15 shares
Fidelity Total Stock Market Index Fund: 29.06 shares

Roth IRA
Vanguard 2050 Target Fund: 358.31 shares

Yep, that's it! But with the market down, I'll be buying more shares for every contribution to these accounts, so when it comes back up, I'll see bigger gains. This is just a reminder to myself to hang in there.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Mid-Afternoon Clothing Craving

OMG, you guys, I don't even know what I'm going to do if I can't procure this dress for myself for spring and summer polka-dot gloriousness. At $138 (plus shipping, if I can't find it in the real world), it's well-nigh three paychecks' worth of clothes budget.

Perhaps I really will be a good little consumer and spend my economic-stimulus check on clothes.


Does it come with an MBA?

I wonder if there's something I just haven't figured out...


Sunday, March 09, 2008

When It's Worth It

I spent $40 eating out today—nothing particularly interesting, really, not great food, nothing better than I could have had at home (though the Earl Grey at the tea place was very good indeed), but I still thought it was worth it. I had a long, leisurely tea with a few friends, and sat looking out the window at the tides of the rain rising and falling—now a deluge, now a mild drizzle—for a couple of hours. Then I walked from 5th Street to 85th Street with one of the friends, having a chat, getting drenched by a sudden resurgence of rain, just hanging out. And then at the other end of the lengthy walk, called up a friend whose corner I ended up on and we went and had omelets and beer, and sat around for a few more hours, just talking about stuff, just being together.

And was I planning on spending $40 eating out today? No. Not at all. But...whatever, you know? The money's there. I'll adjust for the rest of the week.

I think for awhile there my frugality pendulum had swung a little too far into cheapskatery. I'm working on finding a happy medium. I think I'm getting closer. The thing, I'm learning, is to tone down the rigidity. I know I can get through a week on $40 in grocery money. There's no reason that I need to consistently be striving to spend next to nothing over the course of a weekend—I've got some money to spend. Not a hundred bucks, but I've got some money to spend. And it's fine if I spend it. It's fine if I go out for an unscheduled after-work drink. It's not going to break the bank. I can chill.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Aller Anfang ist Schwer: Something Yet to Come

Aller Anfang ist schwer. A girl I knew in high school began a poem that way (I found out when I Googled her), italics and all. It stuck in my head. One has to wonder, in such a case, if the beginning is at the chronological beginning—the top left, the first character—or if such a phrase is the equivalent of beginning with an asterisk, a way of moving the real beginning across the page a bit. (This page intentionally left blank!) But aller Anfang ist indeed schwer. We begin because we have to begin in order to get to the good part, the accumulation of things. I do; perhaps some people are different. I always want to move the beginning, to skip the first sentence. All right, the beginning, I want to say. The beginning. The beginning is over. It’s started; it's already begun; we're in the thick of things now, beyond beginning. But all that does is postpone the real task of beginning, of gathering, of entry.

When I Googled (can that capitalization really be right?) this friend, I failed to find, perhaps because it had not yet been written, her article on the time she spent in Berlin while I, also, was spending time in Berlin. We had made the arrangements together. I was far less committed to isolation, to intellect, to German than she was—I knew that I was not returning to school in the fall, and I felt that I had to some extent resigned the task of continuing the chronology of things by signing letters that announced my intention of absenting myself from campus and by absenting myself from America. The point is that she wrote an article about the isolation she imposed upon herself, the muteness of committing to the language acquisition process—this I also experienced, though I spoke English often to American friends. I do not appear in the article, though I spoke with her (in English, largely) regularly and often walked her to her host family’s home after dark. Except. When she talks about the lack of excitement, of glamour, of the stories she did not bring back with her to Harvard’s hallowed walls: one of the stories is mine. While I lived across the city in Berlin, she did not experience what I had experienced two years before (foreign faces and sounds, the ruined ferris wheel hulking over Ulaan Baatar, the cold nights and wild gerbils of the Gobi). We lived in the same city; we had kaffee und kuchen in Prenzlauer Berg. Now we have lunch; we discuss the lintel of adulthood on which we tiptoe back and forth. We are ready to have begun, but not, necessarily, to begin. I have appropriated her experience in one way; she has appropriated mine in another.

Beginning is difficult because it announces its own necessity. Before the sounding of the barbaric yawp there must be the opening of the mouth foolishly wide, the inflating of the egotistic chest, and, I picture, the raising of the feeble, punctuating forefinger. And then. There is the place between intake of breath and its expulsion into sound where one must claim the intention to begin—all the ways there are to think and feel about that—thinking and feeling them, one or many—beginning anyway.

This is the thing: that you and I are not each other; neither one of us is someone else. Nor are we all collectively one thing: one set of eyes, one mind, one decoder ring. We have been troubled by the possibilities and pitfalls of communication always: Benjamin's pure language, Levertov's interpretive leaps, Derrida's misreading. We begin anyway. For better or worse, whether it gathers or sunders us, we begin. Aller Anfang ist schwer. Aller Anfang, aller Anfang, aller Anfang—


My Savings Projects are Multiplying!

My mom just sent me and K an email saying that she used her frequent flier miles to book us plane tickets to Italy to celebrate her 60th birthday with her! I'm way psyched, and also, of course, really grateful for the plane ticket (and for K too! my mom is awesome).

This intensifies the urgency of my desire to throw her a dinner party for her birthday after she gets back from Italy (she & my dad are spending the whole summer). My own table will be entirely inadequate, so I'll be co-opting my parents' kitchen & dining room, but other than take off for the day to a museum or something, they won't have to do anything. I'd like to invite as many people as their big dining room table will seat (12-14) and do a full menu of hors d'oeuvres, appetizer, entree, and dessert, all full of gorgeous late-summer produce. Maybe a cheese and fruit plate, too. Mmm. My dad will probably want to do the wine (he's bossy about stuff like that), but I don't want him to pay for the rest. I should be able to feed 12-14 people really well on $250-300.

Of course, it would be a little silly to start saving that $300 right now, seeing as it's March and her birthday's in August, but it's #2 on my Things To Save For list, preceded by the one I'm working on now: about $400 in startup cash for my secret internet project (no, I won't tell you what it is yet).


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Should I Ask?

Here's a question that's been much on my mind lately: should I ask my parents to write me a check so I can max out my Roth IRA?

Before you start in about my sense of entitlement, consider two things:

1) They did so last year, and expressed their wish to do so again this year.
2) I live well within my own means--I do not need this money, but wouldn't be able to save this much on my own.

As commenters have mentioned, this is really more a "wealth transfer" scenario (i.e. by funneling money into my Roth in small increments, my parents are giving me money that will turn into lots of money without anyone having to pay taxes on it) than a "financial support" scenario. Nevertheless, my parents are making a lot of important financial decisions now, in the wake of my dad's retirement, and I don't want to ask them for something they're unable to give. Then again, if they'd said they wanted to do this, is it really unreasonable to say, "Hey, guys, did you still want to do this?" Or do I take their silence as their answer?

(I really don't like asking my parents for money, in case you haven't noticed.)


2008 Goals Update: February

Here's where I'm at in my march towards my 2008 goals.

Earn the full match in my 401(k)
I've earned 22% of it. At this rate, I'll have maxed it out by the end of October.

Save $4,000 in the Freedom Fund, for an end balance of $10,000.
I saved a mere $225 of income this month. It was a spendy month because of K's birthday. This brings me to a total of $775, or 18.1% of my goal. I'm still on track.

Give $1,200 to good causes.
I came up $50 short of my scheduled $100 this month. I hope to make it up later in the year.

Earn $1,500 of non-salary income, earmarked for graduate school application expenses.
Five ING referral bonuses and five Pinecone Research checks bring me up to $280.35, or 18.7% of my goal. No checks yet for blog ads--I'm closing in on getting a check from Google, though.

Buy a friend a drink at least once a month.
Although I usually don't count him for these things, I think the wildly expensive meal I bought K for his birthday covers this one pretty solidly. Other than that, I bought a friend some tea.

Achieve a net worth of $35,000.
My February net worth calculations are up at NetWorthIQ: I upped it by a scant $508, or 2.39%. Not great, but not too terrible, either, in this month of hefty spending. It would be awesome if I could make some damn money in my 401(k) and IRA. I was counting on some investment gains when I set that goal.


Monday, March 03, 2008

I Got an Interview!

The woman who emailed me to inquire about my cover letter has now asked me to come in and interview on Wednesday--naturally, I'm going, and already thinking about what questions I'm going to ask and what I'm going to wear.

The thing is, I'm not totally sure I want the job. I want less workplace-related angst, and I want more money, but I don't really want to change jobs a year and a half before I quit to go to grad school, and I don't really want to trade in my current hard-earned interesting projects for a slew of boring stuff, which there is a chance this new job might be. I'm definitely going to ask a lot of questions with a realistic eye towards figuring out whether this job would actually be a good fit, and I'm considering asking my current employer to match any offer I might get from this other company. (It would be deeply inconvenient for them if I were to leave right now.)

Anyway, it's nice to know I'm marketable.