August 2009 archive
What a great post over at Weakonomics – the seven types of saver. I love trying to categorise myself with things like these!
After reading all the descriptions, I have to say I’m a mix of two – the Bucket and the Sweeper. I keep nothing in my main account. That’s changed over the years – at one point I used to keep it quite flush, with a cushion of a few hundred dollars. Now I’m back to budgeting down to zero and everything is devoted to a purpose. I also like to keep various savings separate, although I still need to open up a couple more subaccounts.
There was a debate over on the MSN boards recently about this – whether it’s better to have actual differentiated accounts (and the possible fees that come with that) or simply shovel them all into one, keeping track of how much is allocated to each fund via a spreadsheet. Oddly enough, the battle kind of fell down gender lines, with the guys preferring to keep everything in one streamlined account and the women liking to separated them out. Luckily for me, my online savings accounts not only pay interest but have no fees and provide easy access through internet banking.
The Mr. Bucket: Mr. Bucket has more than two savings accounts and each one has a name. 12% goes to emergency fund, 8% to the house fund, 20% to honeymoon fund, etc… You have no fun with your money because each bucket is a never-ending pit.
The Sweeper: These are the people that keep a bare minimum in their checking accounts. Every penny above the minimum is “swept” into savings, paying down debt, retirement accounts, or something else. They probably use a credit card for most expenses, paying it off each month. Sweepers are aggressive savers.
I (and T for that matter) used to be a combination of the Magician and the In-n-out paycheck to paycheck types. And this was when we were both working and he was bringing in decent money! But I have to bear in mind he was paying off more debt then, as well as all the other expenses incurred by work – gas, tools, clothes, food, etc. It’s a little hard not to be bitter and think about how much money we wasted during that period! But live and let live.
just to have more time in the day.
For me, news is a daily ritual. I just don’t feel complete until I’ve caught up with the headlines, and read every single story that catches my eye. That can take a while. I do it all online – I don’t really watch TV news and I don’t listen to the radio anymore. And my news consumption mainly happens in the evening, after all the day’s happenings have been and gone, because that’ s just how my schedule is.
And that’s just ONE news site – it can take up to half an hour, plus the time it takes to scroll through my google reader, deal with emails, work on assignments, muck around on Facebook, and Twitter; and I sometimes like to check out Salon, Jezebel, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, etc, when time allows. Or when I still have the time and energy to bother.
Seriously, the amount of time I spend online borders on the ridiculous sometimes. I’m on the internet constantly at work – that’s my job. I use it for uni, and for leisure (obviously). Sometimes I get home and just feel too tired to go through the whole routine; yet I feel almost obligated to. It’s a toss up between a night off, and dealing with twice the amount of, well, EVERYTHING, the next day.
My week away on field trip meant I was more or less cut off from the online world. I didn’t know how I’d deal with that; I dreaded it. But you know what? It was FREEING. It was actually really really nice – it let me relax, and it was a relief, almost, to have all this free time. (That’s a bit sad, I know).
How much do you spend online every day? Do you ever feel resentful about it?
I recently got to sit in at a sentencing at the High Court. It was not an auspicious start. I was running late due to a phone interview running overtime. Then when I stepped outside, I found it was raining, and the downpour of course stopped once we reached the court fifteen minutes later – soaking, bedraggled, with the only dry parts of me being my back (wtf??). My hair was limp, damp and straggly, and I couldn’t see out my waterlogged glasses. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we hadn’t been allowed in, considering our state.
Luckily, there were no metal detectors this time; last week my fork got confiscated at the district court and I couldn’t work out where to retrieve it from afterwards. I ended up going over to the AU campus to eat so I could pinch a plastic fork. Good times.
I think we all know that law in action is nothing like law on TV. It’s certainly nowhere near as exciting and snappy as on Boston Legal. The actual sentencing took nearly an hour. I expected a flowing, succinct speech. Instead, the judge spent most of it flipping through pages and pages of documents, spending approximately as much time referring back to notes as he did in actually speaking. (That coupled with his pace of speech meant it was ridiculously easy to take notes – in long hand even). It was more halting than anything, and it was tempting to tune out. Don’t get me wrong. The judge was extremely articulate and delivered some excellent lines. And I understand the need to refer back through notes, given the vast amount of paperwork that would have gone into that case. It was just somewhat hard to stay engaged through all the page turning and lengthy pauses. Give me TV courtrooms any day.
Sometimes I feel like nothing but a telemarketer.
That’s right, I feel like a salesperson pitching crap to people over the phone.
Is it really so different? You’re calling people, who you’ve most likely never spoken to before. You’re trying to get them to talk to you. To answer your questions. Sometimes they don’t want to, and they’ll do everything in their power to wriggle free. You try and try, you rephrase, you try to sell yourself. Sometimes it just plain doesn’t work.
You try to coax the magic quote out of them. To get them to elaborate, to keep them talking, keep them listening. If it’s a controversial topic, something they don’t want to discuss, you try to get around that in the way you word your query. And you need the balls to keep asking, to keep hammering away.
I realised this because today, I dealt with someone who was happy to talk to me. Someone not used to the media, someone genuine, someone whose story I just wanted to hear and who was happy to share it.
It was just a relief. Such a welcome change from weary, wary people – and don’t get me wrong, I can more than understand WHY many of them are that way – who are afraid to utter a single word on the record, even when it’s totally non controversial, and actually in their interests.
It made me realise how differently I can, and need to, handle ordinary people. Not business people, not politicians, who we have to hound and harangue constantly, and usually to no avail. People who actually return calls, and emails, and even pick up their phone sometimes. Perhaps even more amazing, today I received immediate responses from one political office. I took the measure of emailing two separate people with the same enquiry, expecting to hear back from neither. But both replied within the hour. I almost felt stupid and amateurish, even though the opposite was true.
Tags: career, media, uni
The recession bride: how one couple did an $8000 wedding. Not sure about the berry pies in lieu of cake, but I really liked this: Our wedding day will not fit into a nice, neat rose-and-lavender theme. Then again, neither have our lives. Our friends andfamily have shaped us and carried us up to this point. So will it be with our wedding. That’s how I imagine mine would be, anyway.
Jobless couples: what happens when a partner’s laid off? I guess the one good thing about having flatmates is they keep BF occupied – he doesn’t “bombard me” when I get home, desperate for attention.
DC Interns beware! : I love me a good snarky blog! Unfortunately this blog, touted on VF, didn’t quite live up to how it was pitched. Current fave snarky blog is still the newsrage over at Editing the Herald.
A bargain over evolution: Can religion and science reconcile? Apparently so. I bring good news! These two warring groups have more in common than they realize. And, no, it isn’t just that they’re both wrong. It’s that they’re wrong for the same reason. Oddly, an underestimation of natural selection’s creative power clouds the vision not just of the intensely religious but also of the militantly atheistic. If both groups were to truly accept that power, the landscape might look different…and the two might learn to get along.
The Women’s Crusade: She used to be beaten and abused by her husband. Then a $65 microfinance loan allowed her to start a successful embroidery business.
Tags: internet, media
From Sunday’s paper: 10 things we hate to pay for. Though it seems to me largely cribbed from a similar MSN Money piece, 15 overpriced things we hate paying for.
Here’s the list in short:
Commodity price rises
To that list, I might add: although holiday surcharges suck, workers are entitled to time and a half on public holidays. You would be, so don’t begrudge paying the extra 15%. I usually don’t eat out on holidays, or if I do, I try not to moan too much about it. And…as good as popcorn always smells at the cinema, it NEVER EVER EVER tastes half as good as it smells! On the odd occasion that I give in and buy some, I’m always disappointed.
Other things I hate buying: Eye drops. They don’t cost all that much – $5 to 10 – but you have to buy them every month! Which brings me to that other monthly expense I resent: tampons. I also find myself buying socks far, far too often, along with pens and razors (for T).
Tags: money, spending
It’s T’s 21st next month..and it’s kind of a big deal for his family.
His mum is selling off a bunch of stuff so she can buy him a present.
Stuff like silverware, jewellery, creepy old dolls…..and a reeeeeally old Bible, that’s over 100 years old.
It’s kept him pretty busy recently, polishing off all the silver, driving around to pick up stuff, and driving to antique dealers/appraisers, etc. She’s making him work for it! Seriously, after buying the silver polish and gas for all the travelling, it’s probably cost us about $40. Better be worth it.
Anyway – it’s a pretty awesome Bible. It’s huge – MASSIVE – and really delicate. But it looks well preserved; it’s not falling apart, probably due to the hard cover, and only a few pages are ripped.
It used to be as long as you paid SOME of your Telecom bill by the due date, you could pay the rest the following month without penalty.
Last month I paid about 3/4 of the total bill due to my slack flatmates not coughing up – on time. It’s probably the third time in my entire life I’ve ever done that; it’s not like I make a habit of this.
Just got the August bill with a $7.50 late fee on the outstanding portion. Not impressed.
Don’t get the impression that I don’t pay my bills (even the portions I don’t rack up). I had eighty dollars in cash and opted to just put that towards the bill on the spot, rather than faffing around with deposits/bill splitting/money transferring. I did that with (I thought) the knowledge that I could do that safely.
Ah well, that’s what you get when you’re tied to a greedy corporate *sigh*
Tsk. After being pleasantly surprised to find I got paid for the two weeks I interned back in July, my bank balance was looking a bit healthier (seeing as I had budgeted to NOT get paid, and saved accordingly). And after buying half a car with BF, I just wanted to keep beefing up the savings as much as I could.
Don’t worry, I didn’t quite wipe out the progress I made. But….I got an email advising us of a special staff offer – discounted Cirque du Soleil tickets. I was really surprised, cause I thought Dralion had already left town. Seeing a Cirque show is one of my to-do-before-I-die things, so after a bit of agonising, I decided to take the plunge and just do it. Overtime plus birthday money covered it all. Might not have been frugal, but it will be an experience…an extravagant, splashy-outy one, but one I have been SET on and not just a random decision. Seats cost us $95 each (down from $119), plus booking fee which came to just under $200. There were also cheaper seats ($75 and $50), but they were so far back and off to the side, we nixed that idea.
Just ORDERING tickets was somewhat exhilarating. I’m a total noob to this stuff. I’ve never played Lotto – wouldn’t know where to start – and I’ve never bought tickets to anything online (I’ve tried, though, oh how I’ve tried. 2007 RHCP concert comes to mind). I was all worried, wondering how I would get the tickets – would they be sent out in time? What if we got crap seats? Ah, the wonders of technology. I get to PRINT my own tickets, and we got to CHOOSE our very specific seats using their awesome java-type programme which showed a seating plan of the entire place.
* * *
Anywho, Thursday was the night, and it was amazing. (It was a spendy night. We made an evening of it – I had classes, then work, and T had his class in the afternoon, so we met up, ate dinner at the Roundabout pub in Royal Oak ($33), popped across the road to get a drink and snack to take with us from Pak n Save ($4), parked – right up front with the VIPs and VWs, BMWs and Holdens, because a friend of T’s was the parking guy ($6) and one ridiculously overpriced hot dog for him ($5.50).
What can I say? If you’ve seen it, you know how incredible the things they do are. If not, well, they were just unbelievable. The goofy Italian-looking clown/ringmasters did a great job of entertaining us at the start, end, and between acts, without ever speaking a word (of English, that is. They squawked, shrieked and laughed aplenty and had us rolling around at their slapstick antics. They recruited a man from the audience to play along on stage with them, who we later found out was actually part of the whole act.) There were crazy contortionists, twisting themselves into positions I almost couldn’t bear to watch. There was balancing on poles, balls, hands, heads. Graceful dancers of all kinds, albeit in rather corny costumes. There were amazing aerial acts, swooping around on lengths of silk; dancing dragons; juggling to the power of ten; tiny dancers forming human tiers three and four tall; lizard like trampolinists soaring up, down and back onto the walls, seemingly sticking to them like real life spidermen. We both agreed they were our favourite act – they seemed to defy physics and gravity, never losing momentum, yet never stumbling as you might expect each time they sprung up and came to a crisp pause at the top of the walls.
An honourable mention also goes to the last couple of acts – the rings and the skipping. The supporting performers got their chance to shine, instead of simply dancing and slithering around the main acts; they mounted rings of all sizes onto a mini trampoline and dived, vaulted and flipped through them – gave me bad flashbacks to gym class, actually. They fouled up a couple of times, which just endeared them in my eyes. They swiftly regrouped and repositioned their hoops and carried on, uber-professionally. They even almost managed to do so in time to the music. I wasn’t too keen on the second part, however – skipping and flipping through massive jump ropes of yellow material, which caused far too many mistakes. The pyramid jumps were the most nervewracking. The poor guys at the bottom were obviously shaking under the strain, and it was painful to watch. Too many slipups in that one.
It’s almost better to watch some of them in slow motion, so you don’t miss anything. One, because sometimes they’re just that damn fast, and two because for the multitasking-challenged like me, it’s hard to focus on more than one thing, and there’s so much going on at once.
It made me want to be part of a show again. I’m not a performer, but I get a buzz out of being involved with them. Every single year I was in the school talent quest doing something; I hated being on stage, but perversely, I got such a massive high off it and would be walking on air afterwards. And I have such great memories of intermediate – my school devoted second term, every year, to the schoolwide production. It was always a musical, and EVERY student was involved, if not acting, singing or dancing, then doing lights, sound or props. Our shows were always brilliant, because that was our job everyday for two months, not just fitting in rehearsals after and before school. They probably don’t do that anymore – it was pretty unorthodox, and the teachers behind it have probably gone by now – but I think it was a fantastic idea.
Tags: circus, money, spending
After a spate of posts on tipping from Well Heeled, I’m extremely grateful for two things:
One, that we don’t generally tip. Our service staff get paid at least minimum wage, and good waitstaff can actually make pretty significant money. I mean, such good money that a well known anecdote is a journo grad saying “Why should I go into journalism when I make more waitressing at the restaurant?” Makes it easier for us all around, and there’s nothing stopping you tipping IF you want to. Imagine how fraught group dining situations could get…
Two, that tax is included in prices. That’s always puzzled me. How strange, to go around the supermarket, pick up your groceries, get your bill at the checkout and then have tax added on? And I mean, obviously a Dollar Menu item at McDs isn’t REALLY a dollar, is it? This would piss me off no end….
Tags: money, restaurants