Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ethics and money making

J at Budgets are Sexy wrote on Monday about his conscience and saving money at the gas pump. Making money and ethics was on my mind this week because I had won several tickets to the 5th Annual Congressional Blues Festival at Kennedy Center. I won them for free in a raffle and asked my musically inclined friends if they wanted to go, but alas one had class, etc. etc... I decided to sell them, but had hestiations.

The festival is a lobbying event for a non-profit that aids Blues musicians. They get corporate sponsors to pay for the event, but also sold tickets to the event for $35. In addition, they had a random lottery that awarded (i don't know how many) tickets. In an email - they did mention that more than 6,000 people were in the lottery. Anyways - if you were in this position would you sell the tickets? for how much?

I think selling tickets for more than face-value is illegal (i really have no clue about legal stuff). I don't know how that applies to a ticket I received for free, but has a value of $35. I sold the tickets for 10 bucks each and was thanked by the buyers for not inflating the price. But still - I almost have an inkling to donate the money I made from those tickets to the music makers foundation. Thoughts?

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Net Worth

CD: $10, 653
401k: $3,531
Savings: $1,000
Checking: $182
Condo: $374,000

Total Assets: $389,366

Total Liabilities: $227,175.34 mortgage

Networth is: $162,191

According to ehow, a CNN Money calculator from 2004, and James at DINKS (dual income no kids) finances...I was calculating my net worth incorrectly. I added my condo's value according to the tax assessor.

Eating Out (aka: my financial downfall)

After tracking my dinner spending habits for the past month, I found that I cooked dinner 14 out of 30 days. This is vastly superior to 2 years ago when I ate out almost exclusively. (It did suck after a while.)

The good news: I have more or less achieved my goal of cooking dinner at home three times a week.

I still want to cut down on eating out. Or at least at expensive restaurants in my neighborhood. I have been able to trade eating dinner out on Saturdays for eating brunch instead. I'm assuming it's cheaper. Another incentive for the switch is that I can get out of bed late and famished and be able to cross the street for a great brunch - instead of making breakfast, washing pans, and having bacon smoke infused into my hair! I tend to cook on the weekends because I have ample time to defrost, marinate, and prepare ingredients.

How do I determine my next goal? I am analyzing the past month's cooking data...

I cooked 46% of dinners.

Dinners cooked sorted by day:
Sunday - 3 dinners
Monday - 3 dinners
Tuesday - 1 dinners
Wednesday 2 dinners
Thursday - 2 dinners
Friday - 0 dinners

Meals that are tough to cook:

1. Wednesday night dinner - I volunteer on Wednesday nights, so I can't cook, and I doubt bf will. Unless, I can persaude him to...Dinner most likely will be something easy to prepare (pasta). We usually get very excellent Indian takeout for $9.

2. Sunday Brunch - I adore. I know making brunch is possible, but I wake up at noon - I don't think any of the breakfast-y things I make would cover breakfast and lunch. Hmm....maybe an every-other-week agreement should be made here.

3. Friday night dinner - I'm always itching to get out of the office and do something to kick off the weekend right.

Even with just those 2 meals a week plus 2 brunches a month - I'd be eating out 10 times a month! Which is better than 16, but still A LOT. I think this might be a good goal to work on, it will reduce my dining out to 33% instead of 53%.

I'm sorry to say, I haven't recorded my lunch eating expenditures. I don't think I will start marking my calendar, but I will aim for brining lunch 3 times a week. I would estimate that right now I bring or get free lunch from work 1 day a week.

For the next 30 days, I will go out to dinner 10 times or less. Going from 16 dinners out to 10 dinners shouldn't be hard (crosses fingers)- it's only 6 meals. And while I'm putting all my thoughts on this blog, I might as well throw in that I have a built-in "cheat" for this month. I am going home for a few days and know I won't pay for meals.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One Year Ago....

I was looking at old posts on my blog and saw that one year ago I was blogging about my networth. So today, I will calculate a new networth. (Whooohooo, my boss said I could leave early from work today!)

CD: $10, 653
401k: $3,531
Savings: $1,000
Checking: $182

Total Assets: $15,366

Total Liabilities: $227,175.34 mortagage

Networth is: -$211, 809.34

Not much difference, eh?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Everyone Dies Alone

I regularly read well-heeled girl's blog. She recently wrote about being a 20-something year old and facing challenges, expectations, and questions about what the future may hold. Many commenters chimed in with their experiences feeling alone, wanting to stay on the academic path by enrolling for advanced degrees, and being uncertain about the future. Read it here.

(this was originally a blog comment, but it got long and mean, so it didn't quite fit in with the other comments.)

Yes - I feel overwhelmed and lonely sometimes with lots of questions about the future...

But these feelings aren't specific to Gen Y-ers, all young people in all eras have felt this way. I feel like articles that people write to define/compartmentalize/generalize young people are counter productive to actually -living life-. I do appreciate knowing that other people get down sometimes just like I do, but I don't like articles summing up generations because that feeds into "our" expectations.

For example, Meg commented on Well Heeled girl's entry that she was taught her whole life should be directed towards college...but where did this expectation come from? I know parents and role models are a huge factor, but I also think these articles and books are detrimental because they help reinforce "societal norms" like going to college (or being stick thin, or being heterosexual, etc). I often wonder what my life would be like on a remote island without all the social conditioning and definitions of "success" that mainstream media [read: advertisers] drown me in.

Anyways, getting into a great college and graduating is a short-term goal that is very helpful in life, but is just a means to the end. I had a blast in college - I met people, partied, learned stuff, and graduated with a double major in 3 years. But now I'm finished with that, I'm on to something new, I would hate to be stagnant and perpetually stuck with my 18-year old mindset. Looking to the future, I know that getting married, having kids, and living in my dream house aren't necessary for me to be happy. I'm weary of people who "always knew I wanted 2 girls and 1 boy".... because I wonder: you are going to shape your life around an idea you had when you were 8? I liked eating crayons when I was 8. C'mon!

Instead of looking outwardly into the world to see what options and paths are offered to me for a "happy" and a "fulfilling" life, maybe in being introspective and honest with myself, I can find my own path to happiness. I doubt there's a cookie cutter template of happiness for all people. I liked how Well Heeled girl has planned action-oriented steps and that she knows sad feelings are normal and mandatory in life. For a control freak like me, it helps to remind myself that I can't control what happens at the office, in the world, or how other people act/think, but I can temper my own thoughts and change my perspective (think positive). Also, it helps me to know that I am the one who decides when I'm at peace with something and I can take as much or as little time as I want.

For example, in the pf blogosphere - people routinely change their perspective to get out of debt. Instead of thinking that shopping or material things providing happiness and relief, people re-frame their thoughts to see that paying off credit card debt and watching their account balance numbers go up each month actually provides more happiness.

So in the quarter-life crisis context, instead of seeing a lonely/confusing time, I really do see being young as a precious time that should be enjoyed to the fullest and the height of opportunities and possibilities. It's great!

Here's a tidbit - an excerpt from the "quarter life crisis" wikipedia entry -

Characteristics of quarter-life crisis may include:

* feeling "not good enough" because one can't find a job that is at one's academic/intellectual level
* frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
* confusion of identity
* insecurity regarding the near future
* insecurity concerning long-term plans, life goals
* insecurity regarding present accomplishments
* re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
* disappointment with one's job
* nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
* tendency to hold stronger opinions
* boredom with social interactions
* loss of closeness to high school and college friends
* financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipatedly high cost of living, etc.)
* loneliness
* desire to have children
* a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you

I wanted to add a botched Tony Robbins quote:

"Fear is a better motivator than desire, attractions, or potential rewards could ever be."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I opened a money market account today w/ Indy Mac bank. gave the bank a low rating for on their "Safe and Sound" index. From the website:'s Safe & Sound Capitalization, Asset quality, Earnings and Liquidity (CAEL)® is a proprietary, analytical product that assesses the financial condition of banks, thrifts and credit unions.

Safe & Sound CAEL rating system

Safe & Sound CAEL rating Definition Star rating
To learn more
We believe that many banking consumers consider a bank's financial stability to be pertinent to their banking decisions.'s Safe & Sound CAEL rating feature is an independent resource to assist consumers in those banking decisions.

Hmm - Indy Mac Bank of Pasadena only got 1 star. Should I be worried? Big financial institutions like Countrywide didn't even have a rating, so I'm not sure how accurate/updated this rating system is. I had pared down my choices for my $1,000 to either a 3 star rated bank with an interest rate of 3.59 or Indy Mac with a 3.97 rate.

I figure both are FDIC insured and went with Indy Mac. My only other thought on the matter is - WOW, interest rates suck now!