You all know about my ardent love of food (I’m definitely not in the ‘eat to live’ camp). Today’s post is a gentle reminder that for too many of us, eating remains a privilege and not a right.
There are many keys to happiness, but shouldn’t food top the list? It is one of the basic necessities of life. Without food, there is no life. My uncle – who came from a very poor country – once made the comparison that being a millionaire to him was being able to take care of himself and his family. Being sure they were well-fed and taken care of was “rich” enough in his eyes.
Obviously, food and money aren’t necessarily tied together, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the analogy. We strive for financial freedom/gain every day – at least those of us who opt for the responsible life. But everyone looks for food to not only offer comfort, but stability. Thus being well-fed could make you feel as fulfilled as if you had just won the jackpot.
Before I really understood the analogy, the term “rich” to me was being able to buy whatever I wanted from stores like The Personal Creations site or Pottery Barn. I envisioned my wealth as having the ability to spoil those I love the most with lavish personalized gifts, whether it be simple household goods, or even a new house entirely. Now, as I mature, I think he might be on to something about the food.
Think about all of the ways in which we use food to celebrate. Or maybe, it would be easier to think of an occasion that doesn’t involve food. I only say that it’s easier because there isn’t one. Whereas, if you are to list the moments where the menu is a major factor, you could be making a list for days.
For me, celebrations are made by good food and good people, not necessarily about the gifts or lavish decorations. I don’t care what the occasion is or if gifts are involved, so long as I am in good company and am full when I leave. Often times, I find looking forward to the food rather than the people I’m celebrating with. As awful as that may sound, sometimes it’s the case.
For millions of people around the world, food is a luxury. A luxury that they only wish they could afford. While, I rant and rave about the importance in setting up your financial future, I find myself taking for granted the ability to indulge in the most satisfying flavors every day.
We all know the rumbling feeling in the stomach that comes with being hungry, but how many of us can relate to being unable to quench those pains? I am hoping that none of you have to experience the difficulty that comes with the inability to eat. However, that is real life for so many people. In all honesty, I rarely think of that when I am stuffing my face. Now that I am sitting here writing about it, I do feel a little bit bad for taking advantage of something many people can’t have.
I have found myself reflecting on a saying I heard one time many years ago “When you are eating, you are a millionaire.” I found it silly when my uncle said it then, and I find it silly now. But if you break it down, it is easy to see the correlation, especially when you know just how many people struggle to feed their families and themselves.
My uncle will never be a millionaire, but he will also never be hungry. It goes to show, that while I may take advantage of the little things and leave little time to acknowledge those who are not so fortunate, others – like my uncle – are reminded constantly of their struggles. That is a lesson that we should all take with us.
I’m not going to have a final total for a few more days (heck, probably not until the day itself), but now is probably as good a time as any to check in.
Here’s what has been spent/is projected to be spent. As a refresher, this is for a casual 40-person BYO bash.
- Dress – $300 (made by T’s mother)
- Shoes – $30 (which I will probably get tomorrow)
- Makeup – $0 (used a gift card to buy new eyeliner + lippy)
- Flower girls’ dresses – $175 (this actually includes a few table covers, which were bought in the same transaction)
- Suits for groom and his entourage – $725
- Rings – $365 (though I didn’t actually end up liking mine, so will be just using my engagement ring)
- Marriage licence – $123
- Celebrant – $300
- Venue -$322
- Flowers – $135 (I’ve given in and ordered some bouquets online, so I have the option on the day. I think this is one of those battles where principle < hassle)
- Photography – $1000
- Catering (Malaysian food) – $775
- Catering (Euro side, homemade) – estimating about $300
- Cake (3x cheesecakes – sadly the Cheesecake Shop does not do giant cheesecakes) – $100
- Miscellany such as napkins, disposable plates, cups, juice, etc – $100? Not sure… T’s mother is, thankfully, overseeing operations for us
- Hotel – $185
So with any luck, we’ll squeak in at just under $5000.
Budget aside, I’m starting to freak out. While I really love all the choices made so far (except, maybe, the table covers we got, which are a bit rubbery and weird feeling – I wonder if I can find some nicer fabric coverings for cheap?) I’m starting to worry that I’m going to get judged for them.
I didn’t want a tall, elaborate cake – I wanted the kind of cake that I would fight you to the death over for the last piece.
I wanted to feel like myself on the day, so I’m literally doing my own makeup and not doing anything special with my hair.
I wanted a mix of cuisines, from my favourite dishes from my birth country to T’s mother’s potato salad, even if the end result may be a little wacky and incoherent.
I wanted a venue with character in spades, and I love the raw, grungy former wine cellar that’ll house our reception lunch (it even has GATES!) though I know most people probably won’t get it and may well think it’s less grotto, more grotty.
If I really dig into all this, I think what it comes down to is the fact that this event is ALL ME. That photo up top? It basically represents the polar opposite of this wedding. I’ve picked out things I like and eliminated things I don’t. In many ways, it’s going to be a a bit of an anti-wedding (a lazy girl wedding?) and I’m just not sure everyone is going to appreciate that. And if they don’t, well, then they’re basically passing judgement on me by default.
Tags: money, wedding
I know a lot of you have been waiting patiently for this long-expected post! Here it is.
Travel on a budget
Travel on a budget often involves housesitting, a mainstay of RTW travellers. We won’t be staying in one place for very long, though, and we’d need to crack the market first – getting that first gig without experience is probably the toughest part.
Instead, we’ll be backpacking, hostelling, and looking for apartment/room rentals. In lots of cases, private rentals seem to be cheaper than hostels in big cities. There are sites like AirBNB and Roomorama, which have large databases but also high prices and hefty fees. There’s also plenty of others, like Wimdu, 9flats and Housetrip, which I prefer due to the no/low fees. These range from shared apartments to full private apartments, but at the very least you’ll generally at least get a futon to yourself. Some rentals may charge huge deposits/bonds/cleaning fees, or extra fees for extra guests. I would just browse listings on all the sites and see what catches your eye on a case by case basis. Most of them are easy to use – you can search by date, area, sort results in list format or view on a map, and some display reviews on the page and even an availability calendar.
Then of course there’s Couchsurfing, though I’m aware that as a pair we may find it difficult. New Zealand is a land of houses, but I know tiny apartments are the norm in lots of cities around the world. In scouting out potential hosts overseas, it became obvious that many, many hosts can only accommodate one guest. That said, we’re also open to staying further out in the suburbs – that’s just an opportunity for another experience entirely. (You can read about my experiences as a Couchsurfing host here.)
Finally, there’s volunteering. Hosts shelter and sometimes feed you in accommodation for your labour, which could range from helping out on a farm to cleaning or even more creative pursuits like graphic design or photography. Look on sites like HelpX, Workaway, WWOOF, GlobalHelpSwap and Staydu. To sign up as a member, you’ll usually be charged a fee that gives you access for a year, and freedom to contact as many hosts as you want.
Budgeting for a RTW trip
I read a lot of RTW blogs and have looked at a lot of travel budgets (Legal Nomads has a large list of links to various bloggers’ travel budgets here).
I’ve also combed through Budget Your Trip, a super handy website that aggregates costs from real travellers. Obviously, any crowdsourced data is only as good as those who partake, so costs are likely to be more accurate in cities that are well trafficked. On Budget Your Trip, you can see budget, mid range and luxury budgets based on real data, in local or other currencies.
Costs are going to vary a lot by region. Asia will be the cheapest and Europe probably the most expensive. I’m hoping we can average out to $100 a day over the whole trip, though I’m also accepting of the fact we’re very probably going to blow through that at times.
Funding a RTW trip
There are two parts to this equation.
Savings is pretty self-explanatory. You’re all grownups; you know how to save money (at least in theory, even if you’re not quite as good at it as you might like to think). Savings = income – expenses. To break that further down, you can cut costs, increase income (which I tend to be better at), or both, in order to maximise that gap.
Expenses so far have been about $10k. Thankfully, we got a killer discount on our backpacks and some other gear (nearly 50%) this month due to T’s staff discount at Fishing Camping Outdoors. There are probably more I haven’t included below (eg travel adapters and other bits and bobs).
At this stage, there should be enough in the kitty to cover a $100/day budget, once I get my leave paid out, given that we’re spending a month volunteering. Odds are we’ll spend more than that in some places, so…
Income is the other half. I’m aiming to keep some money flowing in while we’re on the road, which hopefully will have the added bonus of keeping my skills sharp. How?
Where print ads typically cost more than a month of my salary, online advertising is absolutely buggered. For all that digital offers (interactivity! measurement! mobile! targeting!) I don’t know if it will ever catch up. Ideally, ads would flow in and help fund this blog, with me only needing to worry about editorial and keeping you guys interested. Unfortunately, traditional advertising just isn’t working anymore. Advertisiers want more integrated and sophisticated solutions. THEY WANT EDITORIAL. That means rather than being relegated to banners and sidebars, they want in content links, for example. Sometimes this is more lucrative than a plain ad but it’s a lot more work for us. At a company, you can generally leave that to the ad sales guys; as a blogger you have to be much more involved.
Er, my point? Online advertising is tough. That said, where possible, I will continue to try to monetise the blog – without selling out, that is.
I never wanted to make blogging a business. I have no desire to get to the point of bringing on staff writers – this is and always will be my personal blog – paid speaking gigs (shudder – I can’t think of anything worse than public speaking), or coaching (again, no desire to be a life coach). But I am grateful for the opportunities that it has brought. Which leads me to…
Yes, there really are jobs where you can travel the world and work from anywhere – the kinds of jobs where you can earn an income as long as you have a computer and internet connection. Technically, I can work remotely, but the reality of my particular workflow and daily local deadlines means keeping up my workload while constantly on the move would be, er, challenging. And I’m more than happy to take a bit of a break.
So I suppose I’ll be joining the hordes of digital nomads out there … to an extent. The plan is to do *some* work while on the road. Exactly how much I am not sure, but less than full time.
Want a piece of me? I’m available for select content-centric work, so if you’re in need of a
kick-ass freelance blogger, freelance ghostwriter, or freelance editor, drop me a line.
One last note
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of things that make this possible:
- No commitments. That means no mortgage, no kids – living in a crappy house with hand-me-down furniture (not that I care about that, but I’m MAKING A POINT here!)
- No/minimal debt. That means no student loan, no car loan, etc.
I’m a big believer in keeping your fixed costs low and committing to as little as possible. That’s allowed us the flexibility to do this relatively painlessly. Figure out the puzzle pieces and set yourself up for success.
Whatever your goal – travel, buying a house, having kids, moving to another country – it’s doable if you truly want it and commit to making it happen.
Tags: money, personal finance, travel
You know something? This is likely to be my last Link Love post for awhile. Next weekend will be full to the brim wedding stuff, and we’ll be hitting the road after that.
Speaking of blogging, I haven’t been getting pingbacks through comments since January. Therefore if you’ve linked to me since then, I may or may not be aware of it.
I think my theme might be blocking them somehow – or else maybe Dreamhost is doing something weird? Any ideas? Is anybody else experiencing a similar problem?
(I know, I know. Not really the best time to start stressing about this. Priorities.)
And so, to the links…
Cait reckons this is the only motivational post she’ll ever write – but it’s a cracker.
Nicole and Maggie’s post about their fantasy libraries is BEYOND. Fellow bibliophiles, click over there right now.
This post on the 9 traits of underearners at Get Rich Slowly is a thought provoking one. As some of the commenters point out, some of us choose certain career paths with the knowledge they won’t make us rich.
Little Miss Moneybags breaks it down: is it THAT much more expensive in NYC than the midwest?
And finally, Ms Career Girl lists some gems of work wisdom from four famous women.
Happy weekends, all!
Seeing as I’m currently in that last stretch before the wedding and struggling to hold onto the “no bullshit” mantra, today’s guest post is a timely breath of fresh air. I especially love the bit about sticking the finger to the Pinterest curse (if like me, you couldn’t care less about the ‘pinnable factor’, you might find it hard to survive the pervasive WIC out there). Take it away, Steff Green, Auckland-based writer, blogger and alternative wedding celebrant. She writes about wedding planning on the WeddingWise blog – part of the WeddingWise directory where couples can find, review and rate their wedding vendors.
Having been through the wedding planning process myself, and then on the other side as a wedding celebrant for others, I wanted to add some of my own tips for bullshit-free wedding planning.
I believe the modern wedding has gone totally out of control. The average cost of a New Zealand wedding is about $30,000 – and that would make a sizeable deposit on a first home. And what are we spending that whopping sum on exactly? Chair runners and centrepieces and wedding favours and designer stationery and an “it” band for the reception-
And yes, these things are all gorgeous and will make our wedding look like a spread from a bridal magazine – but when was that more important than starting our life with our new husband/wife in a financially secure and abundant place?
For me – and the couples I’ve officiated for – the solution has been to abandon any pretext of creating a “pinnable” wedding – that is, a wedding that looks like an editorial shoot that would be pinned 1000 times on Pinterest. My own wedding in 2008 was at Spookers at Kingseat hospital, we had swords and heavy metal music and a Lego cake topper, and it came in well under the expected “average” cost of a 100 person wedding.
How do you adopt this attitude? Well, you start by abandoning the wedding magazines and Pinterest “wedding porn”.
Focus on what’s important
When we started planning our wedding, I asked my husband to list three things he wanted for the day. He said, “I want to wear something comfortable, I want to carry my sword, and I want everyone to have fun and not say it was boring.”
I then had to come up with a list of my own. It ended up being: “I want a red dress with an EPIC train, I want the ceremony wording and vows to be really personal, and I want everyone to have fun and not say it was boring.”
We made those 5 points (since two were the same) the focus of our wedding planning, and anything that didn’t factor in to those points we ignored. We didn’t pay for any decorations, wedding favours, or flowers. I found my dream red dress online for 1/5th of what it would’ve cost me to buy it in a store, and my husband wrote the ceremony and chose his outfit of black jeans, black boots, a white tunic, and a cloak he made himself.
Here are some ways you can save money and hassle on your wedding day:
Repurpose and Use What You’ve Already Got
Have you been given a bunch of your grandmother’s jewellery that you’ll never wear? You can have the metal and stones remade into your wedding rings, often for a fraction of the cost of a new design. Talk to a jeweller (I can highly recommend Guthries Jewellers on Queen Street in Auckland) about what they can do for you. (Ed: And if you happen to need an antique ring shrunk to about half the size, I recommend Carats – the only place I could find that would tackle mine.)
Many other items you already own can be used for your wedding. My centrepieces and “unity candle” were candles and holders I already had around the home. You can use clothing, jewellery, shoes or other accessories you already own to complete your wedding outfit.
I recently went to a Elvan Lord of the Rings themed wedding, where the whole bridal party wore costumes they rented from a local store. Rental for costumes is significantly cheaper than buying or renting a suit or dress, and omigod did this wedding party look awesome. Theme and costume weddings are not for everyone, but I’ve been to a few in my time and I tell you they are definitely the most fun.
You don’t need it
Nothing about the wedding industry makes me angrier than wedding favours and Save-the-Date cards. Both are – in my eyes – pointless expenses designed to do nothing more than part couples with more of their money. Save-the-Date cards might be useful if you’re having a destination wedding, but a simple and personalised email to all the invitees would be equally effective.
Do you need wedding favours to thank your guests for coming to your wedding? Surely that’s what your personalised thank-you card is for? Your guests aren’t attendees at some corporate conference – they’re your family and friends. They WANT to come to your wedding. They don’t need chocolate treasure chests and little sand pails emblazoned with your monogram as an incentive. (Ed: THIS! Although … if I’m taking off overseas straightaway for awhile, I can put off the note writing, right?)
Think carefully about each decision before you spend any of your hard-earned money on wedding accessories – think how many hours you’ve worked for that money and if you really need this item, or if you could put the money to better use elsewhere.
Order a Gown Online
I’ll tell you a secret that many wedding dress retailers don’t want you to know. Most wedding dresses – even the ones reportedly made by big-name designers – are made in workshops in China. Unless you’re ordering a truly designer gown, or having one custom-made by a local seamstress, the chances are high that it’s coming from somewhere in Asia.
The only real difference is the mark-up. Bridal salons need to pay to rent shop space, employ staff, buy advertising, etc. All these costs are built in to their mark-up on your gown. I’ve heard tales that some bridal salons have a mark up of more than 700%.
I bought my dress from an online store based in Australia. It was exactly the same dress as one I saw in various bridal salons in New Zealand, for 1/5 the price. The quality was exactly what I would expect from a salon, and it only needed minor adjustments.
Not all brides have the same stories – there are definitely a fair amount of horror stories about ordering dresses online. The trick is to use a site other brides have recommended, and make sure you are explicit about the detailing you require on your dress (the bridal salons have built up a relationship with their suppliers, so they can give strict specifications about the quality and detailing on their dresses). Order in plenty of time to enable you to have alterations done if the dress doesn’t fit right.
Don’t be afraid of ordering your wedding dress online – for every horror story there are a hundred satisfied brides who got a bargain.
Cut down on food costs
Filling the bellies and quenching the thirst of your guests will probably be your biggest wedding expense – usually around half of your budget. You can cut down on food costs by catering your own wedding. That sounds like a huge amount of work (and it kinda is) but if you’ve cut back on all that other wedding guff, you will have more time to organise it.
Ask a few close friends who are excellent chefs to supply a signature dish for the night – offering funds for ingredients, of course. After you’ve got a few main dishes sussed, decide on an assortment of menu items you can make in advance. Organise a team to heat things up on the day and keep the table well stocked, and you’ll be surprised how many guests will ask you for the details of your catering company.
If your wedding is in the summer months, you could even have a good old-fashioned kiwi BBQ. Think sizzling sausages, BBQed mushrooms, and a huge array of delicious salads and breads. Cheap, simple and always a winner.
You could even have a potluck wedding (where guests bring a plate to share in lieu of gifts), but this won’t go down well in many social circles, so tread with caution.
Ask friends to help with different aspects of your wedding – anything from providing photography services to altering your dress. Friends are usually only too happy to help out, and they can offer their services instead of a gift. I perform celebrant duties for all my friends – it is an honour to be able to marry two people you love and admire, and it helps them save money on their budget and get a truly personalised service – so everybody wins.
These are only a few of literally hundreds of ways you can save money on your wedding by adopting a “no bullshit” attitude. Cut out the details that don’t matter and focus on the one thing that is truly important – celebrating your union with your beloved with an awesome party, surrounded by the support and love of your family and friends.
Tags: money, wedding
Stress and I are bosom buddies right now. The last few weeks have been a real low point in my relationship – I’m quite looking forward to having the wedding over, work wrapped up and the house packed up. I’m trying NOT to freak out about things that really don’t matter, particularly as the two top of mind items are ridiculous and are things I would NEVER have imagined to be a problem: a) bridesmaid dress and b) flowers. Lord knows there are plenty of other, bigger, non-wedding related things to worry about.
But let’s not dwell on that. On the plus side, one thing that’s been plaguing me for the past month or so has finally been resolved. Let me walk you through Exhibit 1 of How Not To Do Business.
We’ll set the scene. One of the countries I’m set on visiting in Europe is Greece. I’ve even booked flights already from Italy. I figure we’ll carve out a day or two in Athens and spend the rest of the time on Santorini. Knowing that it’ll be a busy time in the Mediterranean, I book a lovely lodge through Hostelbookers, one that’s named after the proprietor (who shares a moniker with the main Soprano).
A few days later, I get an email from an employee on behalf of the owner.
“There seems to have been a mistake on the web site when you booked. It should have been €20 per person per night. [name redacted] is willing to split the difference with you and to let you have the room at €15 per person per night. I hope that this is agreeable and we will be able to greet you on sunny Santorini this summer. Please let [name redacted] know when and how you are arriving and he will pick you up at the port or airport. We are very sorry for the misunderstanding.”
Well, that’s not thrilling news, but it’s not an outrageous rate. I ask for confirmation of what the new balance payable would be at that price (it’s all complicated slightly by the fact I’ve already paid 10% of the original booking price, in NZD rather than euros).
I don’t hear back that week. That’s fine, it’s Easter. But THREE weeks pass without a peep. Amidst the rest of wedding + travel planning, I dash off another email asking for a reply.
On Friday last week, I received this:
“Sorry about that mix up. Of course we will honour the original price of €10 a night.
We are looking forward to greeting you on sunny Santorini.”
followed by this on Sunday (this time from the owner himself):
“hallo.the new prices is 39 euro the night.and no tranfer…sorry about that”
At this stage, quite frankly, I’m pissed. The lack of communication, the back and forth between the person supposedly handling the booking and the proprietor jumping in like a loose cannon, and the jacking up of the price … I’ve wasted enough time and headspace on this debacle.
I’m not sure what the usual policy for operators is when prices are wrongly advertised, but if I’d been able to get a straight answer from the beginning, I might have been okay with paying full price – the originals were outrageously low. Unfortunately, the entire thing put me off. I’ve written off my 10% deposit and booked us a room at another lodge, which will hopefully NOT result in a repeat experience, or I may just lose it.
I get the concept of ‘island time’. It was drilled into us while we were over at Rarotonga a couple of years ago. Things move slower. Stress and rushing about just don’t happen.
I’m sure it’s the same on other idyllic islands around the world. But I don’t think that’s any excuse to neglect the basics of business and customer service.
Got any bad business/customer service stories to get off your chest?
I had a pretty heavy post planned for today, but have decided to put it off for now. Enjoy the sweetness and light…
It’s easy to succumb to fast food when you’re busy, stressed and pressed for time. But seriously. Here are three takeaway foods you can just as easily make at home; it’ll taste better – and be better for you.
Tomato paste/puree/sauce – or BBQ sauce – or whatever you prefer
Toppings of choice (suggestions: mushrooms/tomatoes/pineapple/capsicum/salami/ham/cheese
I think everyone makes their dough slightly differently. A friend uses self-raising flour and milk in hers (???!!!). But you can’t go wrong with a basic dough of flour, yeast, salt, water and olive oil. Don’t forget the oil! It gives it a nice smooth texture and will make it easier to knead and roll out.
Start with the dough, and once you’ve got your bases ready, smear them with tomato paste. Arrange your cut-up toppings over the top, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes or until cooked – when bases crisp up and toppings are bubbling.
Tip: shake things up by mixing a couple different kinds of cheeses, or new vegetable combinations – I’m a big fan of eggplant on pizza.
- Burger patties (or if you’ve got minced meat on hand, mix with an egg and a little flour and make your own)
Sauce of choice (tomato, BBQ, aioli, mayonnaise…)
Vegetables of choice (lettuce, tomato, beetroot…)
There are really only two steps. Cook patty, then assemble.
To make it a little more interesting, try adding a fried egg, hash brown, bacon strips, or some caramelised onions.
- Corn chips
Beans (red kidney, black, or a mix of types)
Brown the mince. Add in the tomatoes and beans, bring to a boil, then simmer until the mixture thickens. I like to add a few squirts of pure ketchup into the mix, and sometimes a dash of paprika, cayenne or chili powder.
Take it to the next level with toppings: sour cream, cheese, spring onions, fresh herbs. You win.
What fast foods do you recreate at home?
Tags: cooking, food, recipes
As national mascots go, the kiwi ain’t all that impressive. It’s slow, flightless, practically blind. If Darwin had his way, this rare bird would probably be well and truly a footnote in history by now.
Yet its otherworldliness, I think, evokes the protector in all of us. When I first laid eyes on the first of two kiwi released on Motutapu Island last week, I felt something stir in me.
Surprisingly animated – ducking, squirming, flexing – it was larger than I expected. Cuddlier looking, somehow. By the time it made its way to the end of the receiving line, where I was, the kiwi was getting slightly agitated. I refrained from touching it, not wanting to exacerbate the stress, but others said its feathers were firm, even hard, despite how soft and glossy they looked.
I’m not an animal person at all, but the passion of the conservation staff was infectious. There was a quaver in this man’s voice when he later spoke of the path that led him here, starting with seeing the remains of a moa at the museum, and today, when his 6-year-old son touched the feathers of the kiwi before its release. “Come back in 20 years – it’ll be real noisy,” he promised. I’m thankful we care enough to preserve the kiwi (and our other unique birdlife, which Lord knows need our help).
Here’s another kick ass bird being cultivated on Motutapu, the takahe. It’s a bird we spent many hours learning about and drawing pictures of in primary school, and which (to my best memory) we saw on a school trip to Motutapu back then. Sadly, my only memory of that first visit is of being teased by classmates about my hat. It was a baby bonnet, apparently, one my frugal mother would have picked up at one garage sale or another.
Motutapu has been pest free since late 2011 and thanks to replanting over the past decades, is stunningly lush and green, surrounded by some of the clearest, warmest seawater I can ever remember dipping into in New Zealand.
As I was discussing with one of the others at the event, it would be a pretty idyllic place to live – as long as you had a boat, of course.
Tags: photos, travel
I’ve had money on the brain even more often than normal lately (not helped by Women’s Money Week!) thanks to some financial setbacks.
- As you might remember, T had a SUPER AWESOME brush with death recently on his motorbike thanks to some idiot boy racer. After a few weeks of being off work/on half days/off again due to medical certificate snafus, he was finally sent back to work on full hours, thank the heavens – because as an HOURLY worker with no built up leave right now, him being off work was hurting. (As we’ve learned, ACC has a minimum 7 day stand down policy. Not that is matters, since they refused to cover this incident. A complaint is being filed about the handling of the case, which T’s company is going to handle going forward since we’re leaving the country.)
- His bike, which had just been rebuilt with new fairings in anticipation of selling it, also had about $1k knocked off its (cosmetic) value in a second due to that accident.
- Since then, he’s been avoiding even looking at the bike, which still needs a couple of things done to it to get it running smoothly. That would have been fine, until his friend, who was keen to buy it as is, went and bought a car instead. With just a couple of weeks left, I do not see it a) getting fixed up or b) sold. [insert rant about useless males]
- A couple of long-shot travel blogging pitches/sponsorship proposals went nowhere. Ah well.
Still in the works: my post about financing our trip. I want to be able to present the most accurate numbers, so I’m putting it off until as close to our departure as possible.
On the plus side, I don’t need to pay my wedding venue or wedding celebrant until the week before the big day, which is nice for cashflow.
Got any financial wins or losses of your own to share?
This week’s links:
In the wake of Dove’s new campaign (which I adore), Emily Jane pens a beautiful post on self-image and self-acceptance.
The Asian Pear makes a reasoned case for not driving. (Being shacked up with T, I have a car and driver, but personally would probably drive once a week to the supermarket, if that.)
Kelly Abroad recounts her New York love story from the very beginning.
Some snippets of sage career advice via Publishing Trendsetter, most of which are relevant to all workers, regardless of industry.
Make a Living Writing was on fire this week, collecting true tales of woe from a bunch of content mill writers and reminding us that we all have our own crosses to bear, even when we don’t publicly broadcast them.
When did I last link to A Practical Wedding? I can’t even remember. Let me rectify that. This week’s post on how to be in love is simply sublime – and timely for me, as it’s been a rough week on that front.
Americans, it’s been a hard week. My heart goes out to you. I saw the infamous uncensored Jeff Bauman photo earlier this week, and while I can’t unsee it, there have also been many photos and stories chronicling the depths and breadths of human generosity. And one of the few (only?) Boston bloggers I follow, Sweet Caroline, published a photo montage from Boston that’s really quite lovely.
Tags: blogging, money, rant
Y’all know I’m a big fan of credit cards (when used sensibly). Today’s post weighs up both sides of the coin – the dark and light, if you will.
It’s not only superheroes who need to be cautioned that with great power comes great responsibility; those looking to wield the power of the plastic would be well advised to take this maxim to heart too. Credit cards have the capacity to provide the wellspring for the ultimate in spending convenience and they can just as easily coax you into a crippling state of debt. How you choose to use them is of course entirely up to you, but before you begin to wield the financial equivalent of The Force, perhaps it’s a good idea to get to grips with both the light and the dark side of these controversy courting little cards.
Welcome to the Dark Side – The disadvantages of credit cards
“The Dark Side of the Force is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” – Star Wars
By allowing you to spend more money than you actually have, credit cards can fast fuel your descent into the dark side of debt. Letting your self-control slip when it comes to spending is what credit card firms capitalize on because this is where they make their money. The more you spend and the longer you go without repaying what you owe the more interest they will charge. It’s not uncommon for credit card firms to charge up to 20% interest on unpaid balances, which is why those careless with their credit cards can very easily find themselves on a very slippery slope that leads to ever deepening debt and if ridden long enough, even bankruptcy.
If you do find yourself falling behind on your payments, it’s not only your bank account that will take a beating but your credit rating as well. This will make it increasingly more difficult to apply for loans, rentals or even find a good a job. It’s the kind of damage that once done is very difficult to undo.
Budgeting can become a bit of a nightmare because the temptation to buy now and pay later can give you a false and misleading sense of security. Regardless of the balance in your current account, credit cards allow you to charge up to the maximum limit allowed – which for the undisciplined is a perfect recipe for sliding into the red.
Over 5.5 billion dollars was fraudulently stolen from credit cards worldwide in 2012, making credit card theft and credit card fraud a very real danger. What’s more, as technology increases to grow in sophistication the problem looks set only to get worse. In many cases victims of credit card fraud don’t even realize that they’ve been stolen from until they receive their monthly statement, which makes it essential to check your monthly statement scrupulously for any additional and suspicious charges.
Welcome to the light side – The advantages of credit cards
Use the force, responsibly you must.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. If the force is strong with you and you use credit cards responsibly – by keeping track of all your purchases, sticking to your budget, paying off your end of month balance on time and in full and being vigilant over who you give your credit card information to – they offer a wealth of advantages.
Provided you commit to paying your balance on time, credit cards make paying for purchases easy and relatively effortless. It’s also a great comfort not having to walk around like a cartel kingpin with rolls of cash stuffed down your socks every time you need to make a big purchase. Furthermore, things like booking into a hotel, reserving flights and renting cars whilst on vacation are so much easier if you have a credit card.
Used responsibly, credit cards will help you to establish a good credit history. This will you put you in good stead when you need to achieve favorable terms on taking out a home loan, for example. If banks can see that you manage your money well and you’re dependable with your repayments they will be much more eager to extend their borrowing services to you.
Most credit card companies offer a host of rewards in the form of points that you can redeem down the line in return for goods and services, such as airline miles or discounts at hotels. Whilst credit card point systems shouldn’t be your primary focus when opting to get a credit card, it never hurts to look into what kind of rewards they offer.
One of the most worthwhile benefits of a credit card has to be its ability to come through in an emergency. Nothing can rival the power of the plastic in a situation where you need to make payment fast but have no cash on hand.
Just as with any young apprentice learning the way of the force, a money master would not fail to point out that it’s never really about the card. After all, a credit card is just a tool. It is the qualities inherent in the wielder of the tool that determine whether it will be used sensibly for good, or conversely, send you off on a debt ridden path towards the dark side.
Toby Adams is a professional copywriter based in Auckland, New Zealand, who enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics including travel, finance, health, education and much more.
Tags: banking, money