Category Archives: Money

running and biking budget

One thing helps you do is track costs per mile with your equipment.  I get about 500 miles out of a pair of running shoes, so if I pay $125 for the shoes, that’s about 25 cents per mile.  It takes me about 10 minutes to run a mile, so that’s a cost of $1.50 per hour of recreation in the shoes.

I spent about $750 on my road bike.  I didn’t take notes, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include tax, so the actual cost was more like $825.  I’ve cycled about 1700 miles on my road bike so far, and I *hope* to get about 5000 miles out of it.  My bike was an entry level Specialized, which means it’s probably made well, but the components are about as cheap as you can get for a “brand name” bike.  So we’ll see if 5000 miles is really realistic.  In any case, if I do get 5000 miles, that’ll be $0.17 per mile.  I can ride about 12 miles per hour, so that works out to about $2 per hour – only slightly more expensive than running.

However, biking has a lot of extra costs.  The only thing I’ve spent much money on other than shoes for running is my GPS watch – $500 (!) – and running clothes aren’t super expensive and last a very long time.  My running shirts, for example, I’ve had about five years, and they are in great shape despite probably a thousand miles of use in each of them.  I probably paid $40 to $60 per shirt.  For biking, bibs and jerseys cost A LOT more.  You can definitely go budget on jerseys, or just wear a T-shirt, but I had major issues with chafing and a sore butt (sorry for TMI) when I started cycling.  After wasting money on a couple pairs of budget bib shorts, I ended up spending about $200 for my current bib shorts, and they won’t last forever.  I’m already contemplating getting a second pair.  I replaced the pedals on my bike with clipless pedals ($40) plus the tool to install them ($12) plus shoes to go with them ($160).  I bought a couple of bottle holders ($10) plus bottles ($35).  An extra bright bike light ($40).  A helmet ($40) and a replacement helmet after I crashed wearing the first one ($70).  Tubes for my tires (for flats) ($40).   A book on bike maintenance ($20).  A patch kit ($7).  A bike pump ($40).  And probably a bunch more stuff.  Honestly, it’s crazy to add it all up.

I give myself a weekly budget to spend on whatever I need or want from clothes to hobbies.  When I’m not biking, I find it reasonably doable to stay on budget.  When I AM biking, I instantly start feeling budget pressure.

on beds

H and I have decided to upgrade our bed to a king-size.  Currently, we have a queen bed, on a frame I bought fifteen years ago from West Elm.  The frame itself is fake wood and horrible.  Naturally, I couldn’t return it because it was so heavy.  I haven’t bought anything from West Elm since!  Anyway, it has kept our bed off the ground all these years, which is something.  But it’s time for an upgrade.  I remember sharing twin beds with boyfriends in college and thinking a double bed would be heaven, but I’ve grown spoiled in my old age, and our room is big enough.

First, anyone feel like sharing what kind of bed you have?  Or what your bedroom looks like?  Kind of a personal question, I know.

Second, I decided to allocate $5000 a year towards furniture and interior home upgrades.  Basically, I set aside $100 a week and save it up.  This encompasses big things like the bed and little things like clips to keep food closed, picture frames, a snow shovel, and so on.  I like it because I always used to agonize on what to spend on things, and now with a budget, I don’t spend beyond the budget and don’t feel guilty about what I do spend.

Third, it seems odd and middle-aged to be saving up and spending thousands on a bed.  (I figure 1K or so, all in, for the mattress and $1000-2000 for the bed, depending on what type I go for.)  I mean, I could get a bed and mattress from Ikea for a few hundred.  It just feels odd to spend thousands of dollars on furniture.  It’s like an anchor that makes it hard to move, closes off that life of adventure I thought I’d have when I was young, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious I’m not going to have, by choice.

lottery tickets

I ended up spending about $650 on the rug, including tax and shipping.  (Tax is 10% here – it’s a killer.)  I have actually been agonizing over rugs since Thanksgiving, so I’m honestly just glad to have finally pulled the trigger.  This was the last major purchase needed for the playroom.  I do play to buy some kind of tent or tee pee and some pillows or bean bags, but that should be pretty cheap.  Here’s the rug I picked:

Tile Rug - Porcelain Blue

I have never bought a lottery ticket, but I actually went up to H yesterday and suggested we buy some.  He informed me that Powerball had already been won by someone.  Nevertheless, we spent some time talking about what we would have immediately bought.  He wanted a house with a view.  Personally, I like our house and I have no desire to move.  But I would:

1.) Hire a housecleaning service

2.) Give our nanny a big raise

3.) Buy a really expensive rug that I liked

4.) Buy a nice sectional and maybe some other furniture

5.) Consider hiring a driver to make my commute to and from work easier

6.) Hire an on-call babysitter that would be available to come take the kids whenever we were sick or just needed some extra help for some reason

credit card recommendation

A short write-up about the only credit card on the market that gives 2% cash back on everything. B and I both have this card, and I think it’s a slam dunk if you or your spouse has a fidelity account. My other credit card is the Amazon card, which I use only for Amazon purchases, since you get 3% back on that, and I purchase many things on Amazon.

quarterly goals

I like Sarah’s idea of having quarterly goals.  I didn’t get around to New Year’s resolutions, so here are my goals for the next 12 weeks.

1.) Finish knitting the Aran sweater I’ve been working on for my brother.

2.) Exercise at least 3 times per week every week.

3.) Run a 5K

4.) Pay down mortgage 25K

I think that’s enough for now.    My plan is to try and run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  However, it’s definitely tough running three days in a row, and every day I don’t have to work.  Therefore, I’m also trying to add a midweek workout, probably either a workout video or a run around the neighborhood now that it’s staying light later.  I just tried Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred, and I am stretched out on the bed exhausted.   I guess that means it was good for me.

financial goals

I thought this was a good article.  One of my philosophies in life is definitely, “Never finance a car.”  Even if it was a good deal (0% interest) and I could afford to pay cash but thought it would be better to invest the money, I still wouldn’t finance a car.  I think it just helps you be more conservative about the car you buy when you have to write a big check for it.  It’s easier to say Bye to $10,000 than $25,000.

From the link:

You can afford a car if you can pay CASH for it while still making timely progress on your other goals. I repeat: If you can’t pay cash for it, you can’t afford it. By cash I don’t mean retirement savings in an IRA, I’m talking about actual cash in the bank (or at least something you could quickly sell for cash in the bank).

If you have to justify it with “I’m in medical/law/computer/finance/basketweaving school and I’ll be making the bucks soon!”… no you still can’t afford it. If you justify it with “I need a brand new car because I need something reliable and anything less will explode! Do you want me to die???”… no you still can’t afford it.

On a similar note, my personal financial goal right now is to get my mortgage down to five figures.  There’s nothing like taking a year off to clarify the importance of a salary (and health benefits) and hence the importance of using that money wisely.  Once we get down to five figures, my goal will be to pay it off.  We’re starting to look at where we might move to for better schools, and I don’t want to sell this house right now, and I also don’t want two mortgages.  I’ve been paying down the mortgage a bit for a few months, and what I really like is seeing the percentage of my monthly payment that gets applied to principle increase more sharply than it had been.

On an unrelated note, can anyone recommend a replacement for Google reader?

nanny hiring

We have the nanny field narrowed down to two candidates. I really like both of them. Right now, I’m feeling really good about our decision to hire a nanny as opposed to putting I in daycare. There are a few reasons. First and foremost, with B home, he gets to see I all the time when she’s home, too. He probably visits with her five or six times a day, just for a couple minutes sometimes, but it makes a big difference to him, and I think to her. Second, I plan to come home every day for lunch. While I could obviously visit her at daycare, I value the comfort and convenience of my own home. Third, the nanny will be able to give I individual attention. Fourth, the nanny will help us with household chores, including doing baby laundry and preparing dinner every night. I’ll be working roughly 8 to 6, so this will make a big difference to us. I don’t want to spend my limited free time on baby laundry, and having dinner on the table when you come home is just huge. Fifth, the nanny can take I places, from outside in the backyard to the library and so on. I don’t like the idea of I being in one room all the time as she would be at daycare.

The one major downside I can think of is losing the socialization of being with all the other kids all day long. That’s a big loss, but I think it’s worth it in view of the advantages. Oh, the other disadvantage is clearly cost. The going rate around here is $15 to $16 per hour for a nanny.

One thing I hadn’t considered before we began the hiring process is that we are an extremely attractive family for most nannies. The majority of people hiring nannies live in Belle.vue, Issa.quah, Re.dmond, etc – Micro.softland. Meanwhile, most nannies live where we do – Ke.nt, Au.burn, Ren.ton, Map.le Valley. The commute between these two locations is an absolute nightmare. I did the reverse commute for a few months and it drove me insane. The commute in the regular direction is over an hour on a good day if you’re travelling at rush hour. Many of those I interviewed have current jobs they’re perfectly happy with but ready to ditch due to the commute. People are willing to work for us for less because they save so much time and money by living right down the road from us. Anyway, it’s helpful.

We really need to pull the trigger on this, and the plan to do it this weekend. I’m still very ambivalent about returning to work, but that’s another post.