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Archive for February, 2007

Panhandling and other things that bug me on the subway

February 28th, 2007 at 09:59 am

Most mornings there is a panhandler (different ones) on the train. And often in the evenings as well. Asking for money to get by.
I almost never give (occasionally give to those on the station whose music is really nice, but not to those going through a train.) They look like they could and should be working. I am on a train going to work to earn money! They are not.

Another thing that bugs me on a subway is really fat people who take up two seats(I'm not exaggerating) in rush hour. Their numbers are increasing. I somehow feel they should be charged double fare. My ride is an hour and a half, and the train is full. A person should only be allowed to take up one seat and be fined if they take 2, for whatever reasons. But in our politically correct society it will hever happen. Grr.

I guess I am being really uncharitable today.

Paying many bills today

February 27th, 2007 at 07:53 am

Paid my Discover $967
Chase $72(for where discover is not accepted)
Citi $48 (used when I misplaced my Discover and Chase)
Medical bill $155
and I finally opened a ROTH IRA (I think. I still have to wait for confirmation -- a lot of technical problems)
So that's $4000 - for 2006
I chose a high risk high reward fund.
I'll keep it there for 6 months, than move it somewhere safer.

Now I have $280 left to my name. (and $290 of lucky money from this Chinese New Year -- and I'm not even Chinese Smile But that money I should not use for regular stuff. I should use that for something where luck is needed. )

Tomorrow is payday (I hope my little raise got processed in payroll this month)
Most of that paycheck will go toward rent.
And I got lease renewal in the mail yesterday -- in three months our rent will be raised by $67 a month Frown

Need for goals unrelated to money

February 26th, 2007 at 03:16 pm

Most goals require money and it is necessary to plan for them financially. But one can get too obsessive that way.

It is good to have parallel goals that will make one feel good accomplishing and would not require money to achieve.

I will make a serious effort towards one of mine: studying Mandarin.
I am taking classes 3 hours a week (free from my employer) but need to spend more time studying at home.

My major money-related goal is to save enough for a fun year of studying and traveling in China. (and not working!)

I also hope to go this year for 3 weeks (pending employer approval).

I can maximize what I get out of it by getting my level as high as I can before going. (And it is not easy).

Miffed about foreign ATM transaction fees

February 24th, 2007 at 08:28 pm

Trying to figure out a way to beat them, but can't.

When withdrawing money from an ATM overseas you get charged: 1% by Visa/Mastercard + 3% by your bank (citibank, chase and most) + ATM fee from your bank for using another banks ATM, plus the foreign bank's fee.
This is crazy. I thought I was doing well by withdrawing maximum allowable amount and therefore reducing fees... but I did not know I was still paying 4%, since it is build into the conversion -- and they don't advertise doing this.

It works out to a lot of money over the 15 months I spend abroad in the last 3 years...

If you buy currency, it does not seem better. For 7.75 exchange rate you get 6.6 in reality.

Bought commercial garment steamer today!

February 24th, 2007 at 04:17 pm

Today I finally bought a garment steamer I wanted for a long time! I promised myself I would wait to buy it until I get a raise, and I did wait.

It is pricey ($250) -- but with the amount of silk skirts, blouses, pants and thin cotton shirts I have, I think it is wise investment (comparing to paying $4 a piece)
It is supposed to be very poweful, so I am hoping to be able to just load all work shirts/blouses for the both of us in one load and than steam them all. I hope to cut dry cleaning bill by 90%.

It also can be used on a rug and for steam cleaning (different attachments) I can't wait for it to get here.

--------------------------------------
Had nice dinner at a Korean restaurant yesterday. (I love Korean BBQ!)
A friend from out of town treated (she was coming into town for an interview and asked to stay with us)


Also joined Kiva, thanks to another blogger here

February 23rd, 2007 at 11:10 am

I found out about it 1 hour ago from reading another blog.
Donated $125 today.

It is an inspiring concept.

Besides, keeping my mind on my money so much lately, I need to keep from getting too greedy. Smile

Got a small raise!

February 22nd, 2007 at 03:07 pm

And it was not automatic (had to go in front of a pannel, even for this small amount).

after tax works out to $140 more dollars a month. Not much, but more than I had before. So I am happy with this small victory.

I'm becoming lazy after 3 posts. :o

February 22nd, 2007 at 02:57 pm

I got lazy and not posted for few days. Got to keep it up. Now I barely remember what I did in these few days, and summaries are boring.

Let me recall. Saturday - Chinese New Years Eve dinner. (got $150 in red envelope) Next year we'll be married so this is the last time.

Sunday -- went to Staten Island for dinner (around $70 + $8 for the bridge)
But the meat was good (not like Peter Luger of course, but hey, it is not Peter Lugers price either)

Monday -- I think we had Vietnamese. Need to cut down on eating out. But it is so difficult.

Tuesday and Wednesday -- got treated to homecooked dinner.

Got $155 bill for the lab tests done 3 months ago. grrr Hate spending money on medical bills. Always feel like it is a rip-off.

Nice day overall

February 16th, 2007 at 05:31 pm

Today I got a 70$ fruit arrangement delivered to my office from my SO. It was a surprise. I found out it was supposed to come on Valentines day, but due to weather...

He was on his way from Boston when I received it. When he got to NY few hours later, I took half a day off and he picked me up from work. We had a nice dinner. (after 2 hours in traffic to get out of Manhattan - and we were relatively lucky)

I had 2 margaritas at dinner, so I may be a little drunk right now.

Our two kittens have torn the house apart (all the clothing that was movable is on the floor, a flower pot is broken into pieces and there is dirt all over the room. And they are laying with bellies up and expect to be petted.

Made $50 today on Discover 5% cashback bonus

February 15th, 2007 at 01:54 pm

Today I made 50$ on Discover cashback by bying airline tickets for my MIL on my card (she'll pay me back by check). I can double the reward to $100 if I choose to get a selected retailer gift card instead of cash.

Not only that, but getting that check 45 days before the payment is due will give me an interest free cash advance.
I will use it to finally open ROTH IRA next week instead of next month as I had planned. And by the time that Discover statement comes, I'll have enough to pay it off.

I also just cashed my first $1,000 CD -- $1,027 with interest, and will add that to the ROTH as well. My immediate goal is to max it out for 2006 -- 4000$. Than I can stop worrying about adding to retirement for another 10 months. (I have a pension plan at work to which I automatically contribute).

Today I spend no money (it is a very rare day). I was treated with great breakfast, and brought my lunch. My SO is still on a business trip, so no going out later either. Besides, I need to clean up the apartment before the Chinese New Year.

Too many goals

February 15th, 2007 at 01:20 pm

There are so many things I want to do!
But the budget only goes so far.

So this is about making the best of what we have. To get the most fun while being financialy responsible.

My main medium-term goal is a year off to travel and study another language (in the country of origin).
I have given myself 3.5 years to save for that. In the meantime, it is about finding ways to cut that are not so important to me and still having some fun.