Friday, November 13, 2009

Devil Dog

Meet the most deceptively cute dog ever. He's in the box cuz we're mailing him back to wherever he came from!

He is terror with at tail. We got him in Sept. 2008 when he was 3 years old. I'm not sure he had as many bad habits as he does now, and I take accountability for spoiling him a little....but he's shakin' things up in my life for the past year. BF and I took him to obedience school ($150) where he did great. Is it too cliche to say he is very smart? He was still having problems with meeting people and dogs cuz he grew up in a rural farm. He had never been on a leash and taken for a walk before. So we got him private one on one training ($80) where I was instructed more than the dog. And some of the tips worked....and some didn't.

All i know is that he's been rejected from the groomers (too aggressive they said), rejected from a dog walker (too agressive, see a trend here?), and ran away from the doggy daycare. He ran half a mile through downtown DC streets to get back home. Then sat and waited by the condo buildings' front doors for someone to let him in. How did he think he was going to push the elevator button??? silly dog.

So having a dog is not as expensive as I thought it would be. We got the dog for free from friends, so that wasn't an expense. The friends gave us his leash, collar, bowl, and a 50lb bag of food. So that was another perk.

Bags of food = $40 for 4-6 months. Yes we get the special organic yuppie food for him.
Toys and treats = $10 a month.
Vet visit = $80 once a year check up, unless he gets sick or injured.
Advantix = $40 for the 4 summer months. Buy online, it's SO much cheaper.
Dog license = $15 a year.
Other cost = He chewed through a screen window. I imagine the cost will be $20? The frame is still good, i just need to replace the mesh stuff. I bought an $8 roll of mesh stuff before and I think I can fix it myself.

So it's been an adventure, but i'm pretty happy he's around. I just gotta show him some tough love - cuz he'll try and bully me to give him a treat!

2009 updates - part 2?

Other finance issues in 2009:

1. I horribly horribly missed my savings goal for the year. For the past 3 years my goal has been to save $5,000 for an emergency fund. Every time I get a consequential amount into the account I spend it! Then I lie to myself and say that i will replenish the savings account, but when i'm flush with cash, I don't.

The only thing that holds me back from spending savings $ and motivates me to save is when i think about my goal for next year. I want to save a few thousand dollars for investing. Maybe the appeal is that "investing" is something you do, whereas "saving" really means doing nothing and leaving the money there.

2. I failed at another goal. I intended to keep no balances on my 2 credit cards....and i did for 4-5 months. Then I lost all discipline. I will have no balance by the end of the year. I just have to not go crazy over budget for xmas gifts. I intend on buying for my BF's parents and brothers only as my family doesn't celebrate xmas.

3. I meant to refinance at the beginning of the year because of all the newspaper headlines touting record breaking interest rates. Got a few GFEs then lost interest. I don't really understand points or any of the other terms. I just know I'm not sure that I want to keep the condo more than 5 years from now.

4. I got a car. That meant $44 for a license, $355 for registration, $250 in parking tickets, and $40 monthly for the Gecko. I do like driving it, tho. In response to my nicer newer car, BF wants to sell his, which sets off all sorts of committment-phobia for me!

5. I moved out of my condo and became a renter AND landlord. My job is stable, but all the headlines about recession and yucky-ness was scaring me. So I was thinking of ways to spend less and try and save more. I wasn't sure live-in BF would want to move....and I imagined a very embarrassing conversation about my financial mismanagement causing him to be kicked out of a home. But luckily, he was sick of the neighborhood and wanted to move. We live in a very posh/affluent/desired neighborhood and every store/restaurant around us was really expensive and stuffy. So it was not a great fit for our tastes.

First I looked for a tenant. Some guy is moving to DC to start a federal job? Sounds perfect. A bunch of emails later, he's on board. His rent covers the mortgage, HOA fee, AND then some. Sweet deal! Then not even 2 hours after handing over the key, landlord-ly duties kick in! Tenant immediately lost his keys and need duplicates. Sheesh, c'mon! I haven't heard from him since and have 3 months of rent checks in hand so it's all good.

But, I had ONE week to find a place to live! Uh-oh, panic button time. I knew which up-and-coming neighborhood my BF wanted, but we have a dog and that complicates matters 100 times. (oh my god, i didn't write about the dog yet? hehe - that's the next post then.)

So BF and I went to look at a basement apartment and were disgusted. Due to my flexible work schedule and his long work hours, I checked out 2 prospective apartments by myself. My main objective was to save money. We didn't want to live with roommates because it's awkward when you're a couple plus we have a Satan dog that would attack & devour roommates. Individual apartments were too costly. The 3rd place I checked out was PERFECT. I filled out an application on the spot. Plus, I like my mom and pop landlord duo. I don't have pleasant experiences with property management companies and staff.

In the right neighborhood? Yes.
Private? Yes, no roommates.
Adequate space for couple not looking to suffocate each other? Yes. 700 sq feet and 1 bedroom instead of studio.
Price? $1100
Allows dogs? Yes.

So we're now in a renovated basement apartment with a full kitchen and W/D. There is even a yard for the dog now. It's much better in many ways to high-rise living. I rented out my condo partially furnished, so we did have to get $250 worth of Craigslist furniture (futon, bed, delivery). I thought getting the big furniture pieces (ie: king sized bed, sofa, tv, bookshelves) out of the condo would have been a hassle with UHaul expenses to boot.

In terms of rent...we are saving $687 dollars a month. I am getting an extra $400 a month from my tenant (after mortgage and HOA, but not property tax expenses). So could I say that the move benefits me $1,087 dollars a month?

6. Got a 10% raise at work in January 09, then was told I'm not eligible for bureaucratic reasons for another raise until Dec. 2010. Are you f*cking kidding me?

2009 updates in one post

Wow - how 2009 flew by. I didn't write as much as I wanted to, but my motivation only comes in waves. Right now I am contemplating buying a flat screen tv and read a great Black Friday article. here is the link . People get pretty crafty to get a good deal.

Since I wrote so much about travel before...i'll update about that first. 2009 was a great year to jetset!


Rented out my DC condo for the inauguration circus. I found a nice/responsible business type renter on Craigslist. I was a little nervous about the getting the money and hoping the condition of condo when I got back would be ok. I've rented out rooms to Craigslist people in houses where I lived before, but I had the benefit of being there everyday. So this was a little different situation. Renter sent money, I gave keys to a friend of his who lived in DC. I returned to a condo in good condition. Couldn't have been happier.....except I could have gone without all the jeering at "greedy" people "exploiting" Obama-fanatics during inauguration time.

The rent money covered the costs for a 2 week trip for BF and I to Argentina and Uruguay (including the $650 plane tickets, accomodations, transportation, food). He had never been out of USA/Mex/Canada before. I had never been to S. America. We had a blast watching some great tango moves, zip-lining and repelling down waterfalls, and motorcycling up the coast with Churro in hand. Stayed in hostels in the city and B&B's in the rural areas.

Wanted to go to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires, so instead of taking a $300 2-3 hour flight, we took a $50 16 hour bus. I would bus over fly even if I had tons o' cash. It was an overnight bus, so that negated getting accommodations for the night. It was super comfortable to sleep in (chairs reclined flat) and the bus had a "flight" attendant who brought 2 course dinner and breakfast (after dinner whiskey too). Everything was amazing - food, wine, music, weather, stray dogs, funny miscommunications...everything.


We went to my BF's beach house on the Jersey shore throughout the summer. It was cheap and easy to drive to - but by the end of the summer, even BF grew sick of it. The "shore" provides some therapy to my Southern California native beach deprived self, but it's really not even comparable. It was still enjoyable to get out of the city.


I love August. I love that my birthday is in August. I love summer. I love travel. I love my bf. Mix it all into one and what do you get? A cross country road trip from California to DC to transport my birthday present!

When I graduated college in CA 4 years ago, I left my car with my parents. So they had 4 people in a household and 5 cars. I guess they thought I was joking about living in DC and that I would move back home quick, cuz they never sold the car. So I asked if I could have it. My dad wanted to stop paying insurance for the car, so he said yes.

Anyways, the main purpose of this trip was to drive my old/new car from CA to DC. My sister joined me as we set off in CA and stopped at In-n-Out and my best friend's wedding in Vegas! Next up, Albuquerque. My bf doesn't have as many vacation days as I, so he was flying in to Albuquerque to join me and my sister. We all took a hang gliding lesson - it was fun and HOT. Then I sent my sis back to CA by plane.

Confused yet? There's only 2,000 miles to go! Anyways, long story longer...BF got an unexpected freelance job and the company whisked him away when we were in Oklahoma. So I got to drive alone through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia.

I wanted to drive cross country for so long, especially with the mystique of route 66 and seeing the South. I really wanted to examine how traveling internationally compared to traveling the interior of the US. I went river rafting in TN and met some very nice people who invited me to join them for dinner - so i got a taste of the Southern hospitality! Now I want to backpack the globe for a year.

oh yea, maybe I should say something about finances for this trip. It was relatively inexpensive. I stayed in motel 8s or Red Roof Inns. You better believe hang gliding in NM and rafting in TN were cheaper than doing it in more expensive states like CA or NY.


My good friends were traveling to Europe b/c of work related stuff and invited BF and I to join. I searched around and sscored cheap round trip flights ($360) to Ireland. I've been to Europe 3 times before and know about their discount airlines (ryan air, easy jet, etc.) so I thought we'd land in Ireland and meet up with our friends. Turns out their work changed conference dates and they wouldn't be able to meet up. D'oh!

BF and I had fun in Europe. Although the penny pincher money grinch in me was groaning at every price tag. I had warned BF that every little amenity costs money in Europe. Starting with his hostel/hotel search - he didn't realize in Europe they charge per person for hotel rooms. That's why the advertised prices and final checkout price were not matching.

We got 10 Euro (tax and everything included) plane tickets to Amsterdam - trick's an e-ticket, meaning you -have- to print out the ticket yourself. If a passenger got to the airport and had the check-in desk person print it out, they would have charged a fee of 35 Euros! Fortunately these airlines let you check in 15-20 days in advance of your flight. We popped into an internet cafe located in a train station and printed them out (plus some net time) for 2 Euros.

The first 2 times I went to Europe was to study abroad so the price tags didn't shock me as much, i was used to being a broke student. The 3rd time I traveled I was a entry-level professional - so prices weren't as bad. But the costs this last trip really has discouraged me from traveling to Europe again.

Since we were traveling at off-peak times, we got some perks. For instance, there was a hostel renting beds in a dorm for 17 Euro. The dorm had 10 beds and a connecting restroom, but we were the only ones in the room, so we just shut the doors and was private.

so...i haven't made any decision about travel for Thanksgiving or Xmas. The holiday season is not my favorite time of year. After new year's festivities each year I swear to myself I won't go crazy with the social gatherings and traveling.

oh shoot - i have to go see my parents for xmas! Better look for tickets now.