Monday, March 30, 2009

End of March LinkFest

My thirties are staring me in the eye, but these financial commandments should really apply to everyone.

World of Wealth raises an excellent point--sometimes possessions DO trump experiences. I own certain things that I use pretty much every single day and which bring me much joy and value (laptop, certain books which I reread regularly, etc). Some of these things I got for free (I LOVE my desk, which I found on the street) and some of them I researched and paid for (my Palm). You can't pass on experiences to your descendants when you go. A very good counterargument to the "only pay for experiences" camp.

The MTA approved a 25% fare hike for New Yorkers. This is the third (at least) fare hike since I moved here five years ago. I still feel that $103 is an excellent bargain for all the transportation I have access to (unlimited bus and subway rides), but you won't hear me saying that when I'm trying to get into Manhattan on a weekend and have to take two trains for what is a fast 10 minute trip during the week. This fare hike will not faze me much since my metrocard is a pre-tax benefit from work.

I would love to have my own island!! Peanut is being a meanie and won't let me buy it. He also pointed out the need for a speedboat to get anywhere, so I guess he's got a point.

Time management that works for Trent. I agree with his multitasking point especially--multitasking only works for me when I'm a captive audience (reading or working on the subway, in a doctor's waiting room, etc). Otherwise I get too scattered.

I love this quote from Give Me Back My Five Bucks: Money is made to be spent. I fully agree. But spent on the things that you value.

I'd like to pay more attention to where my money goes. I could easily spend $10 a week on Dr. Pepper, or I could spend $10 on a streetcart lunch with Peanut one day a week. Which would I value more? (Or I could save that $10 a week and invest $520 per year into a retirement account, which at 8% over 30 years would be almost $69,000--this is not a fair comparison, because I'd rather have lunch with Peanut!)

Lifehacker hosts a great discussion in the comments on contract vs. pay as you go phones. Since the iPhone decision is tabled until June, I've been thinking more about getting really cheap phones, or even Pay As You Go phones and the iPod Touch instead. I don't know if it would be a good deal for me--there's quite a bit of texting that goes on for dance jobs, and I average 400-500 minutes per month (I think), but the comments are eye opening and I might need to look into it!

Not frugal but neat--literary tattoos! I have one tattoo, which I was told is the Chinese symbol for "change" but is actually not in Chinese and means something else entirely in Japanese (Too bad, or I could argue I have a personal finance tattoo!). Though I don't regret it, I will probably not get another tattoo--but if I did, this is an interesting idea!

Skype for the iPhone and iPod Touch is coming! This could be a deciding factor in my choosing a cheap pay-as-you-go phone--because I could use Skype on an iPod Touch for making unlimited free calls from home. Hmm.

I love watching the Small Cool contest at Apartment Therapy. There's no way I can enter this year but perhaps...perhaps it could be a goal for 2010? Peanut?

The yoga or pilates passbook is something I think I'd really enjoy...maybe. Would I really schlep to studios in Brooklyn or even Manhattan for a free yoga class? When I currently have a three month gym membership I don't use because the gym is inconvenient...and it's only blocks away from my apartment?

Lastly, I realized over the weekend that my student loan plan might not be the best. I will graduate next May with close to $30,000 in student loan debt, most of it subsidized (around 80%, I think). By August or so, I will have received $15,000 in tuition reimbursement from my job. I had intended to consolidate the loans, write one very large check to cut the balance in half, and then make crazy payments on them to kill them off in about a year.

BUT. Is that really the best plan? That $15,000 could be the beginnings of a down payment, particularly if locked up in CDs. Or they could fully fund several years worth of Roth IRAs. Or be tucked away for a super-serious emergency fund. (Or a Caribbean cruise! NO. NO.) Student loan debt is one of the few kinds of "good debt" to have, and the interest payments are tax-deductible, right?

Obviously, the answer to this depends on whether I can consolidate the loans at a lower interest rate than what I can earn on the $15,000 in a CD or money market account, which I can't know until next summer, when the economy (hopefully) stabilizes a little. If I didn't knock the loans in half immediately, I'd still intend to pay the loans off quickly, within two or three years--but in the meantime, I'd have a wicked nest egg. What would you do?


  1. Personally I'd go for a few smaller laddered CDs to carry me through an emergency few months if needed, and go full vengence after the student loans just to get them out of the way.

  2. I'd pay the loan. I graduated with 25K in loan debt and hate thinking about how much longer I'll be paying it. If I could have brought it down to a much more manageable number, I would have. I like the idea of having at least a few years of my adult life where I'm entirely debt free.

  3. I have a relatively low interest loan, and I just don't feel it is a very high priority. "Get out of debt!" is the simplest and easiest financial advice, and generally works. But sometimes there are better options. It depeneds on the rate - and yeah, tax deductible.

    Small Cool contest: I laughed at my bf because before he moved to LA he was really into that site and contest. Then he has the most boringest (boy-like) apartment with almost no decor.


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