December 2010 archive
I am so embarrassed (hides) – I’m pretty sure this is the spendiest month ever. Also, beyond the $495 in savings already noted here, I have no idea how much either of us actually saved in total (due to the way I handle cashflow). Nonetheless, it was probably more than wiped out by the various large purchases you will soon be reading about.
Clothes - New Dickies shorts for him. Woot pre-Christmas discounts.
Dining - I bought some lunches this month, had dinner with the girls, and as a couple we ate out a fair bit. It was a busy month. Still came in under $200.
Entertainment - Homegrown tickets $200, BDO tickets $240 (through a friend, otherwise would have been $320). Library fines, Fatso subscription. Box of beer brought to a friend’s birthday.
Groceries - We splurged on a fair bit of seafood. Also, it may have been a five week month? This also included some of those biscuit samplers which we bought for Christmas presents to give away, and beer to the tune of $40 which T paid back.
Gifts - we spent about about $200 on each other for Christmas. I got the headphones I’d been wanting, he got the collector’s edition of the new Star Wars game. And I bought myself a dSLR. Eeep.
Holidays - Our post-Christmas weekend away (might post a few pics later on), our anniversary, a little miscellaneous Christmas spending that wasn’t on gifts.
Insurance - I don’t know what the hell is going on. I thought our cover was to renew on the 29th (we have mail to that effect), and I asked T to call up to pay for the year ahead. They told him we were already paid up for a quarter and charged us for cover up until June instead. YEAHIHAVENOFREAKINGCLUE. Unfortunately, he’s the primary driver and the holder of the policy, so he generally deals with them. We’re going to have to up contributions into our irregulars account to pay for the increased cover; in the meantime I’ve paid for it from general savings.
Medical - Contact solution, eye drops, hayfever meds. $15 for 10 freaking pills!! Unfortunately, my allergies have been worse than ever, so I don’t have much choice but to fork out.
T lunch/fun – Still have this category from when all our spending was done from one account. I guess it’s a good thing, cause he a) occasionally accidentally pulls out the wrong card to use b) does it on purpose because he’s close to the line and then pays it back.
Utilities - a little higher than usual due to cellphone wastage and adding movies to our TV package. Which reminds me, I must get around to cancelling our Fatso subscription. I also noticed they added an HD charge to our bill and asked them to remove it (they charge in advance) so hopefully a refund will appear on our next statement.
Vehicle - $213 for our GPS, about $40 for new oil and a filter, and lots of gas.
The dSLR was on my “one day” list, but a friend happened to be selling off his to raise some cash, and I scored a Canon 1000D with bag and two lenses for $750. It retails for over $1000, and that’s with a lens with less of a range. Meanwhile, I’d been keeping half an eye on GPS bargains, and given that I/we hope to be doing more trips, it’s going to come in handy. We used it last weekend and if we go down to the Coromandel tomorrow, you can bet we’ll bust it out. I’m also programming in places that we want to go to at some point, like the Auckland Fish Market, certain restaurants and the like.
In terms of STUFF… we now have pretty much everything we could possibly want. One day – ie when we live in a bigger place with a lounge, say, and a proper kitchen – we’ll get a food mixer and maybe decent cookware, but for now I think we’re set.
Tags: money, spending
Image via Wikipedia
(I’ve just put up a new page, Top Posts, for new and semi-new readers.)
Folks, it’s time to set some goals for 2011.
This blog has always been a work in progress. Unless you’re totally dedicated and have combed my archives Red-style, you probably missed much of its evolution – from totally random reflections and non-hyperlinked links, through flatmate rants and uni woes, through my rather dull stint of weekly spending logs, to the mix you see today. I’d sort of hoped by now I would have figured out a really reflective blog name, got my own domain…basically be a bit further along this blogging journey. Alas, I’ve failed to come up with something better to replace this holding name (although I guess it’s marginally better than the first version, A Hotchpotch of Ramblings – that’s what you get when you start a blog on the spur of the moment one slow evening at work) and a revamp is not on the horizon. Guess you’re stuck with things as they are.
Luckily, blogging about my goals in 2010 has definitely helped me keep them at the forefront of my mind, and keep me accountable: much more than any vision board ever could
Which is why it really bugs me that I’m at a bit of a loss as to goal setting for next year. Initially I thought the financial ones were easy, but I may or may not be making a big change soon…so I can’t even set a savings goal yet.
Travel-wise, I’m angling to go overseas for my birthday, and hopefully take a big trip towards the end of the year…or possibly in 2012. I also want to score a travel writing assignment.
But beyond that, I’m stuck.
I don’t want to set goals like an arbitrary number of books to read, songs to learn, servings of fruit/veg a day. Maybe monthly challenges – like the clothing challenge I did earlier this year – are the way to go.
What goals are you setting for 2011??
Tags: goals, reflections
What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
I would really, really, really like to score a travel writing assignment.
I would feel…nervous at embarking on a brand new challenge; elated at travelling somewhere new and without footing the bill myself; inspired to research the destination and imagine what the trip might involve; excited at the thought of seeing my name in print.
As for 10 things that could elicit similar feelings today, here’s a few I came up with
- Making a nice dinner for my parents
- Running a 10k
- Volunteering for a cause
- Recording one of the songs I’ve learned recently
- Getting down to business and finally setting aside an afternoon to make this pie.
This year, I really started to get my money under control.
- I knew my free overdraft had an expiration date on it, so stopped using it as a fallback and started keeping a cushion in my account.
- I joined Kiwisaver and started contributing 4 per cent.
- I worked full time, started saving consistently and supported the household when T was out of work for a few months.
- I met my goal of saving $10,000 and started tracking my net worth.
- And I earned $5500 in extra income.
I also started running (semi) regularly and am approximately 187342 times fitter than I was in January, when I couldn’t even run for five minutes.
I baked more things than I have ever baked cumulatively in my life to date.
I am a marginally better cook – sometimes I even make up dishes, and am more confident at ‘winging it’. I’ll even attempt cooking a steak unsupervised if the situation calls for it. But I take no responsibility for the end result.
I eat much better and eat a wider variety of things: this year I discovered veggies new and old that I actually like (albeit some in very small amounts). I’m looking at ya eggplant, carrots, pumpkin, radish, fennel, kumara, spinach, and silverbeet – rather than just the potatoes, beans and cauliflower I ate growing up.
Oh, and I’ve vastly increased my knowledge of geography thanks to Sporcle – which only seems appropriate for a wannabe traveller.
What have you accomplished this year?
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
July 6, 2010. It’s a Tuesday. My day off; he’s still jobless, so we have the day together. We usher in my 22nd year with lunch at Kermadec, a seafood restaurant on the waterfront (it’s not as swank as The Grove, but a lot swisher than the little ethnic places we usually frequent). The views are great – it’s airy and the lighting is fabulous. A spontaneous shot snapped by T turns out amazingly well. It’s me, with better skin and hair than usual. A little wry, a little self-conscious, a little awkward. No forced smiles or poses. It’s a moment of serenity, of getting away from everyday life, from stress and from worry, and back to the basics: the simple pleasure of dining.
First off, I gotta give a little love to a few people:
Financial Samurai for including me in a little Yakezie roundup!
Financial Highway Dollar Matters for including me in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.
And PT Money for including me in the Carnival of Money Stories.
Check out Carlee’s list of resources if you’re starting out or wanting to get into event planning.
Deb at Kommein explains how the internet changed the way we work.
Editing Working Girl asks: Just how important is your job title?
Health writing is an area of growth, and Dollars and Deadlines explains some ways to break into the market.
J$ at Budgets are Sexy on why rich people are hot (!)
A topic close to my heart – Donna Freedman on Get Rich Slowly blogs about the ins and outs of mystery shopping.
Nicole and Maggie argue what women need is more money, not job satisfaction.
Sandy shares some mottos to live by, including If You Burn Someone’s House Down, yours will be Burnt Down 3 Times Over.
Sarah at Yes and Yes does a regular feature on interesting people, including her best friend who survived a crazy childhood (sounds more or less like what BF grew up in
Amelia reminds us that we must cultivate our friendships just as much as we nourish our romantic relationships.
This is just hilarious – Living Shallow on being a pasty white woman whose partner likes curvaceous, tanned women.
Donna of Surviving and Thriving blogs about practising stealthy acts of kindness. (Love it. I often find gratitude almost as hard to accept as compliments)
Everyday Minimalist shares a few great reasons for simplifying your life.
Confessions of a Love Addict on clearing out the Ex Box – aka old boyfriend keepsakes.
Finally, Shopaholly shares five amazing posts that she’s glad she wrote this year.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
December has meant loooooong hours for T, and he had to make special arrangements to leave on time so we could celebrate our anniversary this week…
His boss asked what he bought me as a present, and when he said “Nothing”, Mr Bossman was a bit nonplussed.
“When there’s an anniversary or a birthday, you HAVE to get her a gift!”
But quite frankly, there really is nothing I want. Last Christmas he suggested buying me some guitar-themed ornaments that he saw at the mall. Initially I gushed at the idea…until I thought about it some more. They were actually kinda kitsch, and really, I do not need any more trinkets cluttering up my life! In the end, I asked for a charm bracelet – I don’t wear jewellery but I’ve always loved the concept of charms and having each one mark a milestone or special occasion.
This year, I said I’d be happy if he paid for dinner. As for Christmas, we’d already bought a GPS and I unexpectedly scored a deal on a dSLR from a friend this week…so all I really needed was some solid headphones so I could play guitar silently.
But back to my point – this week was our anniversary, our fifth, in fact. We’ve never really celebrated this date. Neither of us ever actually knew it up til now; it’s fixed in my mind as “the Wednesday before Christmas” (2005). But this year I made it a resolution to mark the occasion, and here’s how we did:
A trip into town, where we saw this going on – some kind of crazy publicity stunt, obvs:
I posed by Sky City’s massive Christmas tree, which unfortunately didn’t fit into the frame:
A massage for him (his first ever, and it’s done wonders for his back pain – why had we not done it before???!! Going to make this a more regular thing) and a facial for me. I’d only ever had one before now, and while that was a somewhat painful experience, I only felt slight heat/tingling at one point during this one. My therapist quickly picked up that I had very “weak”, sensitive skin, and worked with it. Here’s me looking all shiny faced and cleansed of pore…
Then over to the Grove – a swank restaurant near my office. It always gets 4 or 5 stars, and was by miles the nicest place at which either of us has ever dined!
His crayfish with duck, pumpkin puree and cute little veggies:My market fish (and yes, that’s foam you see there like on fancy cooking shows. It tasted damn good, though I had to repress the sensation of consuming nasty seawater-type fizz):
and then from St Patrick’s Square, over to the Domain for a spot of people watching and a short stroll.Normally, I detest planning events, no matter how simple, because they never work out for me. I always put too much stock into birthdays, for example, and am ultimately almost always disappointed. And when things do not go as I had intended, my inner control freak freaks out. But this? This was pretty much as perfect as it could have been.
Tags: photos, relationships
How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
This year I didn’t do a heck of a lot of travelling. My schedule didn’t really allow for that, and I was focused on building up savings from my first year of FT work. Money was also tight for some months there while we went back to being a one-income household.
In 2010, we crossed a couple of things off my travel bucket list. We booked a night at the Duxton in a spa room on New Year’s, and in February we spent a long weekend on Waiheke Island sunning, swimming and snorkelling. Bliss.
In September, we went up to Waiwera overnight for T’s birthday. Stops were made to buy fresh scallops from a roadside vendor, fresh produce at the Matakana farmers’ market, and of course, relaxing in the thermal pools themselves.
In 2011 I want to see more of my own country. Hot Water Beach, Tawharanui, the Kai Iwi Lakes, Mt Maunganui, and a trip around the South Island. But as I’ve said, the current plan is to focus more on one of the two big trips, America and Europe. We agree the South Island can be done anytime, really, and will be much cheaper than, er, a 20+ jaunt to the northern hemisphere.
Here’s to realising big dreams.
Tags: reflections, travel
Yes, The Bronze Horseman is the main reason I want to see St Petersburg. Image by Peer.Gynt via Flickr
The unpopular option, as voted by y’all. Still, it deserves a post of its own. Luckily – I think – it’s a trip which would be in many ways a smaller headache to organise (eliminating the road trip and vehicle rental issue entirely).
But first, I quickly wanted to say a humongous THANKS - I am so overwhelmed, both for all your tips and advice, and psyched to hopefully put some faces to bloggers. You’ve given me lots to think about, including possibly going straight from Vegas over to New Orleans and skipping the rest of the west/south. I guess that would mean organising two separate car rentals (eek!) and as Me in Millions suggested, doing public transit on the east coast – from DC up to NY and Boston. And yes, we will definitely be driving the Big Sur, for sure.
And perhaps we need to add Florida in there so I can meet Stephany (I wouldn’t mind being dazzled by Miami while down there). And possibly starting in Vancouver and taking the Amtrak down – unfortunately Vancouver can be an expensive flight and international Grabaseat deals are usually very last minute (as are car relocation deals). Last month I saw both SF and Vancouver flights for $999…for travel this month. On the flip side, hopefully early planning will help us save some moolah as well.
But back to Europe.
Like 99% of the world, Western Europe is what we’re interested in. In fact there are so many places we want to go, I reckon we won’t make all of them this time around. These include:
- London (and maybe Ireland)
- The Netherlands
- Maybe Spain
- Russia (well, just for St Petersburg)
We’d almost certainly land in London (possibly staying with my cousin), then Eurail it around.
We’d be hitting up the museums, galleries, ancient sites, and eating tons of fresh local food. /drool
What time of year is best – maybe autumn, again? We don’t want to go in peak season. Also, I’ve always wanted to see a white Christmas…maybe we could go in winter or is that just insane?
Thoughts on how much to budget daily, or hidden gems we must visit, or advice on finding and booking accommodation ahead on line…? I must say I envy those of you in the US – it’s just a jaunt across one ocean for you, but from here, it’s all the way around the other side of the world.
Image via Wikipedia
As I mentioned a little while back, I’m going to go hard on the travel fund in the new year, focusing on saving for one of the two major trips I want to do.
I have a friend who recently did just this: road trip across the States – but before I pick her brain on logistics, I figured I’d hit you guys up for ideas and tips.
First: Getting there.
It looks like flights will cost around $1000, one way each to LA (we could also fly to SF but pay a premium for it.) I don’t know how much flights back from NY to Auckland are, but a quick glance suggests around $1500 (chokes). So we could be looking at $5-6k alone on flights.
Ideally we would fly in to Seattle, but I don’t think we have flights there. There’s also the possibility of timing it so we can fly to Hawaii with a friend first and have a couple nights’ free accommodation, but I don’t have high hopes of that working out.
Second: Getting around
The reason I mentioned starting in Seattle is I want to see Washington. And Oregon. But I guess we can always drive up from Cali, and then back down again (sigh). Basically, the rough plan is driving from the West Coast to East, probably along a somewhat southern route.
Other stops that are non-negotiable: SF, LA, Vegas, New Orleans, DC, Boston, New York.
There’s a little more detail on my travel bucket list page. While the Grand Canyon is up there, for example, I’m not generally too keen on outdoorsy pursuits. No big hikes for us!
Other suggestions welcomed! Options floated include Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee… BF wants to see a live wrestling match, and be in the Letterman audience. I want to go to some kind of theme park – not too fussed as to which one really, but maybe Universal? I always wanted to go to Disneyland, but that desire has faded over time.
Getting around, b)
I don’t even know where to start. Do we buy a car? (How? Where? Argh!) Rent one? (We’re both under 25. And are one-way rentals outrageously priced?). Rent a campervan? Or even just fly from place to place (although I think that’s at the very bottom of the list.)
Where you come in
We would probably aim for a 3-week trip (maybe 4 max.) I’ve had a quick look at car rentals and the very cheapest is $2-3k for (choke) and probably additional charges galore.
So. Any tips for how best to do this and how much to budget per day or for the whole trip? Should I take the cost of flights and double that, maybe?
- Any places we must see/visit?
- Hostels to avoid?
- The best season to go (think weather-wise and cost-wise). Early autumn perhaps?
Oh and, would we need to book our accommodation ahead of time?
The kind of trip we want to do would involve… a lot of sightseeing ( the free kind). I anticipate we’d mostly make our own meals and stop at supermarkets but also sample local food wherever possible..maybe one meal out a day max (and certainly not every day)?
Shite, I’m feeling overwhelmed already. Okay. Any and all advice welcomed.