October 2010 archive
Image via Wikipedia
On my bucket list is a road trip of the South Island. After all, one should see their own country before venturing further afield, right?
According to Let’s Go New Zealand (aka the budget traveller’s bible) we should budget $75 per person for a somewhat “comfortable” trip. I am not sure their numbers are right. Staying in hostels ($30), one restaurant meal ($25), going out at night ($20?) and you’re not even counting the other two meals or any activities you might want to do. Or gas. I think they just mean one meal “out” a day as opposed to a restaurant meal. Considering that a cheap meal would be at least $10 per person (burgers, Chinese, cafe food, kebabs etc).
But holy hell, there is SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT!
Tough decisions – which season do we go in? Do we campervan or stay in hostels? (which would run at least $60 a night!!). Campervanning sounds awesome…but I’d be so paranoid about having an accident. Emptying our wastewater. We’d still need to stay at sites occasionally which would be $20-40 a pop. On the nights that we parked up at random spots, we’d have to hope nobody comes to move us along.
Also, neither of us is too keen on doing much in the North Island. Nor do we want to pay for vehicle across the Strait. So do we fly down to the South Island and rent from there?
When to book? Everyone says book early. Yet, looking around in the last month or so, there were so many deals for Sep-Nov travel 2010. Perhaps last minute deals are better?
And should we decide to go in spring to catch the last of the snow, timing makes a huge difference. Prices are so much higher in September than October.
For now, I’m going to keep an eye out for one-way hires around Christmas – it would be awesome if we could have a practice run so to speak, and get some of the sights out of the way. Serious planning can commence next year closer to the time.
Oh GST, how I hate you so.
Since the increase (12.5 to 15 per cent) I have most definitely noticed prices creeping up. 1kg cheese – $11 on special (instead of $10). A can of tomatoes – $1.49 on special (instead of $1.29 or even 99c). Cornflakes are now $2.99 instead of $2.79. 2 litres of milk – $3.53 instead of $3.45. They really are taking every opportunity to milk us, figuratively!
And even though it’s practically November and hence, officially summer, capsicums are still $2.50 EACH. Cucumbers $2.99 EACH. Tomatoes, $6.99/kg. Ridiculous; we really must buy a plant of our own asap.
So that’s my bitch and moan out of the way. If we have to increase our budget to maintain our eating decently, so be it.
Here’s a survival guide for freelance journos. A realistic take – I love that it’s not all sunshine and roses about crazy earning potential and no more working for the man. Really, whether you work for a media corp or yourself, you won’t get rich either way.
Do librarians have a future, and what will it look like? Thoughts from an insider.
A great guest post at Design Sponge on how to brand your business on a budget.
J Money interviews Clare of Never Niche on her side hustle, waitressing.
Red writes about the perks of her job (many and varied) and her reluctance to give it up.
Is your weight affecting how much you make? Fabulously Broke looks at the research and shares a rundown of businesses she’s run in the past.
Paying Myself blogs about the fallacy that all lawyers are loaded.
Neurotic Workaholic offers some advice on surviving grad school (lord knows I wouldn’t; I was itching to finish my three-year degree like you wouldn’t believe).
At You Have More Than You Think, a discussion on whether poor people should have emergency funds.
Small Steps for Big Change is in a new relationship, but can’t help thinking she wants him for his paycheck (not as gold-digging as that might sound, promise).
First Gen American explains why gorillas don’t have retirement funds.
At Bundle, Kate Ashford asks if you can afford a second child – and whether it actually matters.
Stacking Pennies on carelessness, procrastination and how it can cost you.
I made my first carrot cake not too long ago, and while it was awesome it was also a tad wet. I might try Jules’ recipe next.
At Dinner, A Love Story, a simple baked sausage recipe for those days you want to keep the stovetop clean.
Being Ruth shares her Indian chicken and potato recipe.
Poor Girl makes a quinoa, apple and cranberry cake. Maybe I’ll hunt down quinoa at a bulk foods store, or try adapting it to a wholly flour version. (Don’t suppose couscous is an acceptable substitute?)
Kevin of Closet Cooking whips up a luxurious grilled mushroom in porcini sauce.
I was also intrigued by this salmon and cauliflower casserole, via Not Eating Out in NY.
And Asian Pear pens a lament on foods she craves that ain’t no good for her.
Finally, Iowa Girl Eats shares the kitchen tools she can’t live without
Geek in Heels has a guest blog on TV boyfriends. Gotta say Booth is my number one, no contest!
Suburban Sweetheart on hilarious misheard song lyrics.
StacFace blogs about marriage, respect and boundaries.
The Backpacking Journalist on the five unusual essential items for travellers.
At Yes and Yes, Sarah writes about the mundane and miserable side of travel.
Karen of Living Well on Less on the things you should never say to pregnant women.
Ashley at Writing to Reach You ponders why and how her blog has changed over the years.
Revanche wonders what kind of policy to adopt on drop-in visitors – who don’t always arrive at convenient times.
Image via Wikipedia
Office discussions recently revealed that while the majority of us are paid fortnightly, there were an unlucky few who had to live on monthly. That minority, of course, felt shortchanged. In one case, they were urged to talk to HR and ask to be moved to a fortnightly cycle.
Sounds reasonable enough. Right?
But it’s never that simple. I could’ve told you that. The time for negotiations is BEFORE you start the job. Before you sign on the dotted line. Once the contract is done and dusted, they are not going to be very receptive to making changes.
The company policy is for monthly pay (I guess it’s much easier for payroll to only have to deal with paychecks 12 times a year). All new staffers have this in their contracts, and it’s up to them to speak up if they want that condition changed.
So this coworker tried. She asked HR to switch her over. They were not very receptive. They wanted a reason. “Changes in personal circumstances” wasn’t deemed good enough – they didn’t see how being paid more frequently would help her out.
This is not a judgement on HR in any way. I can totally see their viewpoint – you’ve managed this long on monthly and it’s going to be a headache to alter that.
What I’m actually trying to get at is that it’s up to YOU to negotiate at the appropriate stage. It may seem HR is being unnecessarily difficult or stubborn, but you signed over your power a long time ago.
Tags: money, work
Thank you so much for all of your kind comments. Seriously, it means the world to me!
We’ve been robbed before – in our old ghetto neighbourhood, where we were basically terrorised by the little shitheads who lived around the corner. I’d been putting off getting contents insurance, but you can bet after they burgled us that first time I got straight onto it. Contents insurance is a MUST! It’s relatively cheap for the peace of mind it provides.
So yes, police report filed, insurance claim underway. I wasn’t even sure they would accept it under the circumstances, to be honest. But I recall once overhearing a conversation at uni – a girl had literally run over a laptop with her car, but “it’s okay, insurance will pay for it”. That stupidity kind of overshadows mine, I’d like to think.
The police, at least, were good about getting our details and coming out to dust for prints (albeit two days later). Somehow they managed to not only get our address but phone number wrong, which led to confusion aplenty. But we won’t go there…
My laptop was password protected – granted not a very strong one, but I will guarantee that whoever took my laptop is much more concerned with pawning off stolen goods than trying to get into my stuff. Financially, all it really had was an ongoing spreadsheet detailing my extra income and what it went towards, and my October financial info for tracking. Of interest to me, but certainly not to anyone else. I’d just recently signed up to Dropbox, though, and am kicking myself for not backing up the file through it!
I don’t have passwords or very much sensitive info stored on there at all, although if they happen to get in and log onto Contact Energy’s site they’ll be able to get into my account and view my power bills.
And as I said, our place was basically already a tip; hadn’t been cleaned in a week and there was stuff everywhere, so trashing it really wouldn’t have made a difference. Heh.
So we’ve replaced both TV and lappy for about $1800 – I needed a new computer right away as I had freelance deadlines looming. I scored a slight discount as my company has a deal with PB Tech, apparently; pays to wear your staff ID swipe card round your neck in public. (I may look like a dork for doing it, but forgetting it and getting locked out after simply going to the bathroom gets pretty old fast.)
I feel I must reiterate just how unimpressed with the current choices in stores were. Everything was hideous and the <$1000 choices were not very appealing. For some reason, there seems to be a trend towards extra-huge keyboard keys, and all kinds of other weird design features. I don’t really care if my computer is pretty, but I do need one that won’t drive me crazy to use. Hence why I decided against a really good deal on a Sony Vaio. I’m happy with my Compaq 620, though.
So this makes a slight dent in my progress toward a new car fund, but after my $350 excess, we’ll be getting just over $1000 back from insurance. (Amazingly, even though I only have “market value” coverage, after depreciation each item was still valued at about $700 after 1.5 years. Awesome).
Auckland is a city of cars. I am one of a rare breed who does not personally own a car. In fact, I don’t drive. I reluctantly sat my restricted licence (and eventually passed) only because upon acceptance into the journalism major, I received a letter informing me that I would require a valid driving licence. (Lies! I made it through the whole year without being required to get behind the wheel in the course of my, uh, course).
But seriously, this makes me some kind of freak. My pocket of friends were also late drivers. Many of us were poor and just walked everywhere. Others had parents who were happy to play chauffeur. Things are changing now, slowly. And to be honest, being able to drive properly would greatly enhance my employability. Particularly if I could drive a manual. I seem to recall last year vowing to learn to do by the end of summer. Ha! In all honesty, I’ve probably done so twice since then, and only because T had had a few too many.
I get by fine without a car, but the fact remains that I do have access to our shared car, and someone to drive me around. (Good for my stress levels, other motorists, and probably our insurance.) Essentially, I now have the best of both worlds. But just what does living the carless life for real look like?
I have to admit, I don’t know what commuting to work by car would look like. Parking in town would run me at least $100 per month, to say nothing of all the other costs of driving and car ownership. Personally, I like to let bus drivers deal with the headache of traffic.
Public transport here kind of works like the solar system. Er. The CBD is the centre of everything, and buses/trains radiate outwards in various directions. So as long as you work in town – or even somewhere along the route into town – you’re set. Of course, the timetables may not work well with your schedule, and in certain areas, you might be lucky to get one bus an hour. Sigh.
For me, living in the central suburbs is non-negotiable. Better amenities, a shorter, cheaper and more convenient commute. A ten-minute walk to the nearest stop is preferable; in winter, walking in the cold and wet is best avoided for health and mental sanity.
I’m going to specifically talk grocery runs, because lugging around bags of milk, potatoes and heavy canned food in no way compares to toting around a couple of shoe boxes and some clothes. Trust me when I say grocery shopping is the single worst thing about living the carless life. Been there, done that.
Yes, I was only shopping for one person, and it was only a 10 (maybe 15 minute walk) but things like milk and potatoes were a killer. Two of my first flatmates were a couple, and they often got a taxi from the mall back home. Other tenants in our street were also known to wheel trolleys all the way home.
Proximity to work is not the only consideration for a carless househunter. Try to find somewhere close to a supermarket. If there are butchers, grocers, dairies and more in the vicinity – even better. You may find that shopping more frequently – multiple times a week, even – will save you a lot of back and shoulder pain.
Buses and even trains are fine…if you’re shuttling between town and back. Which I do for work. For anything else, it’s a pain in the butt.
Let’s say I go to Kingsland (pink marker) after work (blue marker) for a catchup drink with a uni buddy. I bus from the city (black route). But although Kingsland to Mt Eden/Epsom – aka home – is a pretty straightforward drive through two main arterial roads (that godawful cyan coloured route), the easiest PT route is to walk or bus back to the city fringe (blue route), then catch another bus (red route). Time consuming and uneconomical.
Or out to BHB area where most my of my friends still live. It’s the same story, except the bus trip takes close to an hour.
It pays to have mates who: live within walking distance; are generous with their rides; come to you; or just don’t like you very much.
When you choose to buck the trend and live the carless life, you will be forced to live your life by timetables. This is where an accurate watch comes in. And planning, planning, planning!
It also pays to choose your home wisely. I once lived in a very nice, newly built house, which also happened to be a very long walk away, from, well, anything. I was constantly missing buses and running around from one place to another. Not fun.
Of course, if I was single, I’d probably have moved into the city and (reluctantly) adapted to apartment life. I’d walk to work and should I ever need to venture out of town, well, public transport would get me almost anywhere from the CBD. If I needed to get anywhere after midnight – a rare occurence these days, I’ll admit – I’d have to rely on friends or call a taxi.
In short: Life is INFINITELY easier with some kind of access to a car. I mean, relying on other means is by far cheaper, but you lose out majorly in time and convenience. And things like spontaneous trips to the beach? Just not gonna happen.
How does your city rate on public transport? Do you or could you live the carless life?
Image via Wikipedia
Sometimes, reading or hearing about other peoples’ hobbies make my stomach ache a little. bt. $3000 on bungy jumping? $2500 for Bathurst? Season ski passes? Dance shoes/costumes/competitions?
I guess I’m quite lucky that my hobbies are cheap. (T’s…perhaps not so much; eventually working on cars will probably be one, and I’m thankful that that’s still years away unless we happen to find a million bucks lying in the street one day.)
Reading: I love books, always have. But for a bookworm, I don’t actually own many. All my books have been freebies of some sort, and I don’t actually like all that many of them. Instead, I’m a total library whore; at a dollar per requested book, it’s not free, but it’s a long way off $30+ for a new paperback.
Guitar: Initial outlay, around $650 for guitar, amp and associated accessories. Otherwise, basically free.
Photography: I can’t really call this a hobby yet, but hopefully in the future I will. I can’t justify the expense of a dSLR, but at the same time, I feel ridiculous with my little point-and-shoot. Still, it’s not like I’m doing all that much with my camera at this point anyway. What do you snappers shoot photos of?
And then we get to the expensive vices…food and travel. We both love eating out, and love going to new places. Dining out is our main form of entertainment,
What about you? Are your hobbies big-ticket ones?
(Previous installments can be found here.)
46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
Wipe my nose on my sleeve in public. No, seriously. I’d sing louder to myself as I walk home from the bus. And maybe enter an air guitar competition. But most likely not.
47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
All. The. Time. I’m a naturally heavy breather, as is T. And I often have trouble just breathing through my nose. Especially at night. I always wake up with my mouth open and dry (TMI?) like I’ve been trying to suck in every last bit of air possible. Once, when I was visiting my parents, my mum looked up and asked “Who’s breathing so loud? Do you have asthma or something?”
48. What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
People. Music. Food. I made dinner for T yesterday. What more do you want from me, huh??
49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?
Errr, like Kara said, a few eventful things have actually happened this week, so quite possibly.
50. Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
I’m making them. I may hate driving but I like being in the driver’s seat of my own life.
Tags: about me
(For those not in the know, Jafa = Just Another Fxxcking Aucklander)
Guys, lock your doors. Seriously. I don’t care where you live or how nice your neighbourhood is. Just trust me, okay?
Lord, I haven’t felt this stupid or sheepish maybe ever. It really sucks when you take full responsibility for something so basic, so elementary, that in fact I have decided not to admit to what happened. Except to you lovely blog readers, obviously.
So, um, there’s no need to beat me up for my foolishness, yeah? I’ve already flagellated and lamented.
ANYWAY. Should you wish to ignore the above at your peril, here’s how to do it.
Sleep late. Contemplate calling in sick for a second, but realising you’re more or less better and don’t have the luxury of sick days to waste.
Rush out, trip over the step, shut the door, but decide there’s no time to fuss with key finding etc. Run for bus.
Come home to open door and billowing curtain. Thankfully you haven’t been cleaned out. Just a couple of conspicuous gaps where the TV and laptop were.
Laugh hysterically at the fact that your cosmetic bag was also inexplicably taken. Sorry punks, I don’t do jewellery, and all you’ll find is a purple plastic soap holder in there.
Scoff at the crackheads who didn’t take this, this, this, this and this, while being very grateful for the oversight.
Fume at the fact that your most recent financial info is gone. So much for October Type-A-tracking. Looks like that will be shunted over to November instead.
Feel ashamed that thieves saw house in this state. The I’ve-been-bedridden-and-nobody’s-cleaned-in-a-week-state. Clothes and towels are on the floor. Rubbish and recycling piled up in the kitchen. God knows what all over the floors.
Realise what a parlous grip on reality you actually have. Order pizza.
Today, I’m over it.
Stop writing posts about:
- How to save money at the grocery store
- Why buying a new car is a waste of money
- Why renting beats buying
Basically, any topic that has already been done to death a thousand times.
And write more interesting posts. Awesome reads, like the ones below:
One journalist offers an insight into working life behind a paywall.
The female half of Newlyweds on a Budget explains why she’s like a “professional job-getter”.
Some insights on how to promote books via blogs, thanks to Alexis Grant.
Small Steps for Big Change, a professor no less, writes about ability vs desire in the success equation.
Do you need a bookkeeper? What do they do anyway? Find out at Jargon Writer.
Leslie at 27 And Frugal struggles with money issues and family guilt.
Thousandaire Kevin tells us why you should never get in a fight over a dollar.
PR Firewall blogs about why he went to college but you shouldn’t.
I had just been pondering the difference between goat and feta cheese, so this was timely:
Aloysa at The Kitchen Sink shares her experience of mixing relationships and the workplace.
Dana at Pushing Thirtyy on dating a man raised by women. It’s not as bad as you might think.
At Minting Nickels, Lindy cuts back on drycleaning and learns to iron.
Molly at These Little Moments reflects on her journey of motherhood.
LL at Shiftless and Lazy has scored a book deal. Living the dream!
Not That Kind of Girl shares a pictorial rendition of the night she hung out with her middle-school crush.
Diary of Why blogs about why she was never homecoming queen.
Distractible Jane wonders whether having expectations spells certain disappointment.
And at Stratejoy, Lindsey crafts the “about me” statement she wants to write in five years’ time. I’d love to do the same, if I had any idea how I wanted it to read.
eemusings on the web
Thanks to Dough Roller for including me in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance roundup!
I can go for weeks without seeing anyone but coworkers and T.
I’m pretty boring, really.
Can I help it that I’m not interesting in playing drinking games and getting trashed?
Or that I decided long ago I couldn’t be effed with fake friends and don’t get invited to parties?
I almost wish I had moved to a different city, heck, country, even, so I’d have an excuse not to have much of a social life.
Right now, about the most regular thing on my calendar is weekly pub quiz with a team from work. And you know what – I like it that way.
I like being able to come home, relax, cook, read or blog or do freelance work, before getting to bed at a decent hour.
I like having my odd days off to myself, to sleep in, to run, play guitar, read the news, clean the house, buy fresh produce from the corner shop, bake, take photos. Like Shopaholly writes, even though this doesn’t sound like much, sometimes it feels like there are never enough hours. And I’m not even counting the really boring things, like clipping your nails or scrubbing the oven or making the effort to rub rosehip oil into your pigmented scars.
I like my relatively quiet, peaceful life. This is what relaxes, recharges and fulfils me.
And I’m not going to apologise for it.
Tags: life, rant