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Archive for December, 2014

$20 challenge for 2015?

December 31st, 2014 at 08:39 am

I'm still a bit hazy as to what it involves.

Can we set the ground rules?

Predictable Irregular expenses are a key to realistic budget

December 26th, 2014 at 08:34 am

I'm trying to compile a list of regular expenses that are not unexpected, but most people do not include them when they think of their budget. Every time I hear a caller to a finance show, I can't help but think that people neglect to include those, and if their budget is tight, over time it adds up to a deficit.

I am building a detail sheet, and as those expenses come up, I add them to the sheet not to forget. That way if I ever need to do some long term planning or see if I can afford something, I have a realistic picture.

I mean things like:

Replacing tires and break pads, even if once every 3 years, registration/license renewal fee/inspection fee. (car maintenance is not just oil changes).

Holiday tips

Birthday parties

Annual memberships to Botanical Garden, Lego Land, Zoo, etc...

Annual credit card fees (for hotel cards, where the value of a free night is higher than the fee).

Turbo tax every year

Domain name hosting

Months where bi-weekly mortgage hits 3 times

iPhone upgrade for one member of the family once a year (if we are going to do it, might as well not be in denial about it and reflect it in the budget).

Car and life insurance that are paid annually/semi-annually

None of these are "unpredictable", but a lot of people see them this way when they come up. And they do add up to a significant number that should not be ignored.

Any others I'm forgetting? What are yours? My goal is to build the most comprehensive and accurate list possible.

Holiday Tips out of control? What would you do?

December 24th, 2014 at 09:22 am

Neither of us have ever received a holiday bonus. EVER in our lives. We simply never worked for employers where such a thing is in the realm of possibility.

So this is just the super expensive time of dishing out according to societal expectations.

I have a small disagreement regarding building tips with my husband. He thinks we have to give $50 across the board - to doormen, porters, and super (most people give more to super, but I don't want to, since we never ask anything of him ever and he is being paid quite well, including a very nice apartment in the building).

So just giving $50 across the board is $450. (this year building only has 9 full time staff members instead of 11 last year).

I think that we can tip based on how much we interact and how much we like. For example $50 to doormen we like, $40 to the one we like less, $20 to porters and handymen. ($30 to porter we like more), etc.
Who do you think is right?

It bothers me that there is an absolute expectation of tipping. And that we are giving more to building stuff than our son's pre-school staff(who are federal employees and are not allowed to take anything above $20 anyway and there does not seem to be an expectation that you have to. But the service they provide is more important to us, and they are nice to children).

Btw building staff is all union and are paid well.

So, building staff, pre-school staff, trainer (cost of a session is customary), than you are expected to give holiday tip for every service worker under the sun - from hairstylist, to nails, to cleaning, ect... (luckily I don't have a permanent haircutter/nail technician). mailman? But this seems to be very much out of control, and I don't quite feel the spirit, considering that I don't have a Christmas bonus to take this money out of and just have to take it out of our regular salary/savings.

Have been busy and super tired.

December 23rd, 2014 at 06:53 am

With massive workload at work, and DH's final's time (he had to write them, have extra office hours and now he has to grade them). I've been going on very little sleep (getting up at 6 am, coming home around 8-9, putting baby to sleep and than doing everything after). It has just been too much.

I have missed many workout sessions (pretty much 2 months), had extra food and drinks to stay awake, and as a result gained weight. Now I need to lose close to 12 lb! this is pretty insane. Yesterday I finally saw my trainer again, and will up it to twice a week for a little while.

Luckily, things are getting back to normal at work. Apartment is currently looking like an episode of "hoarders". I need to catch up with too many things. But at least the main crunch should be behind.