Monday, June 27, 2011

Moving Update: Hiring Professional Movers

The majority of the costs of moving have come in, so I'm going to give you a rundown!

Here's what we spent:
$70 Application fee for new apartment
$900  Security deposits for new apartment (we each have to pay one...weird)
$1 USPS change of address fee
$250 Deposit for moving company
$2,999.29  Final cost of moving (weight + freight)
$270 Tips for movers
$115  Parking ticket for moving truck
$10 Parking permit deposit
$100  Key deposits

$4,715.29 Total

Was hiring the movers worth it?

I totally think so. It would have been at least $1,200 just to rent a U-Haul truck, plus gas, hotel for at least one night, meals on the road, and missed work. If nothing else, we broke even but I didn't have to carry any boxes or furniture, and that totally works for me!

One outstanding item is the return of our security deposit from our old apartment, which will be about $1,400. I expect to have to pay a few certified mail fees to get that deposit, but I'm hoping not.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life decisions!

Now that we are mostly settled, Peanut and I have started taking a new look at our priorities and finances to determine what we want to do with our money. We have a couple different options.

If you remember, since Peanut went freelance last fall, we lived off of my income and saved his in anticipation of this move. That worked very well for us, and we're now both in stable jobs again, so now we can determine what to do with the money we didn't spend moving. Here are some of our options:

Scenario 1:
Emergency Fund: $20,000
Taxes: $7,200 (estimated)
Pay off LMM's student loans IN FULL: $11,200 (mine have the higher interest rate)
Save for house: $4,500

Scenario 2:
Emergency Fund: $20,000
Taxes: $7,200 (estimated)
Pay off LMM's student loans IN FULL: $11,200
Pay towards Peanut's loans: $4,500 

Scenario 3:
Emergency Fund: $20,000
Taxes: $7,200 (estimated)
Fund two Roth IRAs for 2011: $10,000
Pay towards student loans: $6,700 

Scenario 4:
Emergency Fund: $20,000
Taxes: $7,200 (estimated)
Fund two Roth IRAs for 2011: $10,000
Save for house: $6,700

As you can see, keeping an emergency fund of at least $20,000 is non-negotiable. Likewise, paying the tax bill that's coming thanks to all the freelance work. It's what to do with the additional money that we can't decide on - and it's hard to decide in part because all of these things are priorities. We want to aggressively pay off our student loans, we want to purchase a house in the next 1-2 years with a 20%+ downpayment or $50,000, and we want to save for retirement. But it seems like only two of the three choices are really going to be achievable with the money we have in savings - otherwise we're applying such smaller amounts that we're not really going to make much of a difference.

Of course, all of this assumes that we'll continue living below our means, ideally off of the lower of our two incomes, and saving the rest to use towards one of the three goals as identified in whichever scenario we pick. 

What would you do and why?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The always up to date guide to Facebook privacy. Maybe I'll just check on this on a monthly basis. I've got my security settings set really tight, and yet every once in a while when I log in, Facebook has updated something to share information that I do not want shared.

Make 46 meals for just $95!

The big list of birthday freebies - nothing like this to make me wish my birthday was around the corner!

Um, yikes - a new service will save your Facebook data for seven years for employers to pull like they do credit reports. Go back up to that first link and follow all the instructions there ASAP!

Unclutterer on Own This, Not That. Love it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Review: Canvas Print from Easy Canvas Prints

canvas prints

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to review a free canvas print from easy canvas prints. I've been intrigued by canvas prints and had been considering ordering one made from our wedding pictures, but then, you know, moving across the country and new jobs and all that. So I jumped at the chance!

The software to design the print is super easy to use. Just pick your size, upload your photo, and determine whether you want the image to mirror or wrap around the sides. Like so:

This is not really the photo I ordered.

I ordered an 8x10 of my favorite of our wedding photos that, if I'd had to pay for it, would have cost about $35. What I received (within five days!) is definitely worth $35. The canvas feels strong and sturdy, it's tightly bound to the frame, and already has a bracket for mounting.

And honestly - it's gorgeous. I have this photo printed on photo paper as well as our holiday cards, but I think the canvas effect is by far my favorite.

Modified to protect our privacy.
I'm so glad I got the chance to try this out - it was something I'd been wanting, but I wasn't sure if it'd be worth it. Now that I know that it is, I can get one for all the babies we're going to have here in the midwest! :)

If you've been considering getting a canvas print, I have to recommend Easy Canvas Prints.

Full disclosure: I received a free 8x10 print in order to do this review, a value of about $35 at the time of this post. My opinions are genuine, however - I'm very pleased with the quality and speed of service. I will be using this company in the future, and paying full price. 

Update on 6/25: If you like Easy Canvas Prints on Facebook, you can get 50% off plus free shipping on your first order - limited time only, but a great way to try out their prints.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Frugal with other people's money

Do you find that being frugal at home makes you frugal with money belonging to other people as well?

Mostly this extends to things like not wanting other people to buy me extravagant (or any) gifts, or spend money taking me out for dinner or buying me drinks. Things like that. But I find that it also carries over into work.

In my previous job, I managed a multi-million dollar marketing budget and regularly purchased advertising and promotions that cost hundreds to thousands (and sometimes, tens of thousands) of dollars. But I always asked for discounts and deals, and I did smaller things like re-use paper when possible and pick out the cheap pens and Staples brand post-its when I needed to order things. I brought in my own water glass and coffee mug and silverware so I wouldn't waste paper or plastic. I tried to bundle shipments and send them the cheapest method rather than the fastest whenever possible, and I emailed rather than made overseas or long-distance phone calls.

I wasn't told to do any of this - in fact, sometimes I was told specifically to send something overnight, whatever the cost, or otherwise spend money that I thought was unnecessary. I can't seem to help it though; finding ways to save money seems to be in my blood.

One of the perks Peanut gets from his job is a free parking spot in a commercial parking structure downtown. We live close enough that he can walk to work (or I can drop him off on my way) so we don't NEED the parking spot - but it's sure nice to have for when we go out late, or need to pick something up from a store, or eventually to put our car when we have people visiting who are using our spot at our apartment complex. But since we don't need it, Peanut is going to tell his boss so that if it's costing the company a lot of money he can cancel it (we think it's a couple hundred bucks a month, but we're not sure if the company got a bulk discount or if it's included in their rent or something).

Some people might think this is crazy, but to us, it doesn't make sense to spend money on unnecessary things - even if that money's not coming out of our own pocket.

(We'll see if we regret this decision later on when we have visitors in the winter and have to find street parking!)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Linkfest: Moved Edition

In the last 7 days, I have packed up an entire apartment, cleaned an apartment from top to bottom, left a job, dealt with two sets of movers, flown twice, bought a car, slept on the floor and in a closet, waited in a DMV (twice), unpacked 80% of my belongings, gotten lost trying to drive home, and picked up the handbook for my new job. Needless to say, it's been a busy week.

Here are a couple things I've read to hold you over until I can get to write a full post.

Peanut's dream is a little closer to reality - space tourism prices!
Best of Lifehacker - 10 ways to upgrade your daily routine.

Usually I totally agree with Unitasker Wednesday and the uselessness of the items featured there. However, the square pie iron - what?! This thing makes the most tasty treats EVER, and most camping equipment is single-use anyway. What else would you use a tent for?

I've been experiencing a lot of joyfear myself the last few weeks through this move. What a great phrase to describe the feelings I've had.

Friday, June 3, 2011

May Recap/June Goals

May Goals
1. Continue decluttering while packing. Doing pretty well. I have two cartloads of books to take to a used bookstore, and another cart to take to Goodwill, plus a number of things to just throw out.
Unless anyone thinks I should move old pillows?

2. Start deep cleaning. So-so. I've magic-erasered some things, but I decided to wait until the Stuff is out of the way before I do the actual cleaning.

3. Yoga classes when possible. I've been consistent with the free yoga classes offered near my apartment on the weekends, and I tried antigravity yoga this week. That was fun!

4. Book movers. Done! They'll be here in mere days.

5. Spend less overall. Better than last month but not a great month by any means.

June Goals
1. Complete move in a calm, non-freaking-out manner. This includes basically ignoring the cost, because it's too late to do anything about it now, and I'm trying to make this my most zen move ever.

2. Leave apartment in shape to receive full security deposit. I probably won't get the deposit until July, but I aim to leave no legal reason for them to withhold anything. 

3. Buy a car. I know! What a weird goal! We've been passively browsing and discussing this, but we're about to get our waitlisted parking space, and I want to have the car early on for when I start my new job (what? I haven't mentioned that here?) so as to have as smooth a transition as possible.

4. Aside from moving expenses, rein in the spending. Especially the food!!!

5. Enjoy living with my husband again. Peanut and I have been living apart for over two months, which is more than a quarter of the time we've been married. I won't lie - it's been hard for me. (And for him, but this is my blog so I'll talk about my experience.) I'm basically totally accustomed to living on my own again, which means eating granola bars for dinner and leftover Indian food for breakfast, sleeping in the middle of the bed, being in total control of the remote, and having ooey-gooey phone calls every night.

Instead of a New Year's Resolution Update, I'll give you a more general life update.
- This was my last week at my job. I didn't break down when I walked out for the last time, because I've spent the entire week feeling sad about it. I loved my job, everyone I worked with, and everything I did. I know I'm already looking back with rose-tinted glasses - part of the reason we decided to leave New York was because of the non-stop more-more-more busy-ness of our jobs. But it was a damn cool job and I was very lucky to have it, and even more lucky to leave on such a great note that if we changed our minds tomorrow and decided to stay, they would hire me back immediately. Awesome.

- I did get a new job. It's not quite as prestigious as my old job, but it's in the area of publishing I like and for books I can get behind. It's basically the most awesome job I can expect to get outside of New York, and I'm excited to start it.

- In selling some of our extraneous furniture on Craigslist, I found some potential renters for our apartment, who would move in before our lease is technically up, which would get us some rent refunded and be a totally awesome story. And also makes me want to leave the place even cleaner, because, you know, I met those people and I don't want them to think we're gross.

- We've been paying dual rent for May and June, and Peanut's been living in our giant Midwest apartment with nothing but a mattress on the floor and his remote control helicopter. Space is so cheap out there, even in a city. It's so weird to wonder what to do with the "extra" closet. (here, the answer would obviously be "rent it out!")

Thanks to everyone who's sticking with me through this radio silence - I'm still accepting guest posts, if anyone wants to send one in, since I'll be almost totally internet-free for about a week or so starting tomorrow. I'm looking forward to blogging our adventures in Midwest money saving - Peanut and I have a state-of-the-budget discussion planned for when I get out there, so we can start a new plan for what to do with our mill...uh, thousands. Will we pay off student loans? Will we start saving for a house? Will we buy a gas-guzzling SUV for full price from a dealer? Only time will tell....

May Spending Recap

Alcohol $91
Business expenses $3.89
Clothing $86.10
Dance expense $20
Entertainment $135.69
Food—dining out $558.01
Food—groceries $237.91
Household $75.42
Gifts $55
Helicopter $155.07
Hygiene/Medical $55
Laundry $25
Moving $251
Rent $2265.89
Student loans $453.83
Transportation $60
Travel $142.90
Utilities $188.60
Yoga $18
Total spending: $5,854.30

New category: Helicopter! Peanut has wanted to take up remote control helicoptering, and given my hobby expenses every month (dance classes, yoga) it seems only fair!

Entertainment was a bit higher than normal - we're both being a lot more social than usual, and a third of that is a board game we've both been wanting to play that we finally found at a store.

We're down over all, but still spending too much on eating out, dual rent, and leeching money on moving expenses. We're in the home stretch - I will be in my new place in just a few days!