Sunday, November 8, 2009

I am finding it harder than expected to come up with good content for this blog. I need to take a little time and figure out my direction so in the meantime, there probably won't be daily posts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ripping off the blinders

I (re)learned two important lessons in the past few days: 1) perception is reality and boy, can it differ widely; and 2) don’t give advice unless it’s asked for (and proceed with caution when it is).

I’ve had several uncomfortable discussions (read: arguments) with my mom over the past year regarding money and planning. This past weekend brought about a doozy and while debriefing with my best friend, a realization slammed into me – what I viewed as helpful advice was being seen as judgmental critique. From my perspective, I saw my mom in a tight spot and wanted to help. From her corner, she was dealing with a rough situation and being judged by her daughter at the same time. I’d never considered that my advice might be unwelcome or that this role reversal might be painful. I simply saw a problem and a need for a solution so I stepped up to provide just that. But I didn’t set myself up to see it from her shoes so she didn’t consider the “solutions” as being feasible for her. I’m not sure I’d like that either.

Monday, November 2, 2009

An eye-opener

I attended a beautiful wedding yesterday. The love between the bride and groom and among the guests shone brightly. As I enjoyed the company, food, and dancing, I suddenly realized that I was in a room full of people who routinely pursue their passions, with little regard for the financial implications. One woman is a folk singer (though that barely scratches the surface of her talents), another is an author, yet another is a dancer. It’s a tight knit group of incredibly talented, artistic people who spend their lives doing what they love. What a concept!

And as I looked around, I realized that few people I know would consider these folks successful, simply because most of them aren’t out making gobs of money. A couple of years ago, I probably would have drawn the same conclusion. But now, I’m not sure I feel that way. Because their success is a life well lived, spending their time pursuing their passions. The more I think about it, I think that’s the greater success. It’s given me a lot to think about in relation to my own life. I work in the corporate world – is that what I want? If not, what else would I want to do? What are my passions?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Striking a balance

First, Happy Halloween! Ok, now that that’s out of the way…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way emotions and reason often clash. This topic has been covered before but I am only now realizing the true depth of this conflict.

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself in several situations where my emotions pushed against reason in regards to spending. One was the convertible incident described previously. I had a couple of stressful weeks, with the car and travel and work, and I noticed that I was less likely to think twice about spending during that time. The big win (at least in my book) is that I was cognizant of the conflict and so, even if I wasn’t completely able to stop the slippage, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I think the biggest area of conflict for me arises around my social life. My friends and I have been blessed to have success in our careers and we all enjoy the good things in life – food, wine, travel, etc. I have noticed that when I try to pare back on social spending, it often means missing out on occasions because of the way those occasions are structured. Suggestions of doing something less expensive are met with eye rolling and snide comments.

I can’t blame my friends and family for this because I’m the one who set the expectations. It’s not surprising that I get these reactions for I am the one who’s changing the game. And let’s be honest, people generally don’t like change. We get into our comfort zone and like staying there. But in order to reach the goals I have set for myself, I have to get out of that comfort zone, at least temporarily.

So how do you handle balancing your goals with your reality? And can you change it without changing your entire social structure? For now, I’m combating this conflict by allowing for a tad more discretionary spending. Will I get to my goals as quickly? No, but I’ll have people to celebrate those goals with me when I get there and to me, that’s much more important.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I love to travel. Stepping onto an airplane in one place and soon thereafter, landing in another. Visiting friends and exploring new territory. Airfares have dropped drastically over the past few days. (check out this article for more info)

When I saw this article and the emails from airlines and Travelocity, I immediately started browsing the options and perusing my calendar for a free weekend. After a few minutes, I came back to reality and closed all of the windows. Travel is one of my big categories of discretionary spending and it’s on hold as I pursue paying off that student loan before my birthday. So, while these are fantastic deals, they still represent unplanned spending and delaying the plan that will (hopefully) lead to realizing my dreams.

*sigh* It sure would be nice to jet off though. Sometimes being responsible is hard.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Halloween! An excuse to dress up, play, and party. And this year, we’ve got the fall back from daylight savings time, giving us an extra hour to celebrate. Lots of other blogs have given tips on how to save money on Halloween (I love this one from Jenn at Frugal Upstate).

My challenge was in finding a costume that would be versatile as well as frugal. I’ve got plans that include a family outing, one with my goddaughter, a low-key friends’ party, a fancy-dress party, and a party party. I decided that I would be a cat this year, since I can range from simply drawing on whiskers and wearing the ear headband with regular clothes up to full on costume complete with all black clothes and tail.

What will you be for Halloween this year?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Convertible cars vs. dreams

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up my goddaughter for an overnight visit and her parents and I made a big deal about how she was going to ride in my new car. She was very excited about it. As she was climbing in, she asked “is this a convertible car?” and my heart plummeted. It pained me to explain that it wasn’t and I found myself wanting to reassure her that I’d have a convertible soon. Throughout the weekend, she asked “why isn’t this a convertible car?” several more times. As word spreads about the new car (at work, to family, etc.), people keep asking the same question. Every time I hear it, I have second thoughts about my decision. It’s not exactly a fun process but it’s got an upside: my conviction that I made the right decision grows stronger because I have to keep reliving the decision process.

That was hammered home yesterday as I talked to a colleague about the new car and he needled me about the lack of convertible (which has been sorely missed with this week’s nice weather). I started down the usual path of questioning myself…and then I really listened to him talk. He was describing how he and his wife approach cars: they lease new cars every three years. He considers car payments “just another bill,” like a student loan, so they don’t bother him anymore (his words, not mine). That snapped me back to reality. By the end of this year, I’m going to pay off my student loans and less than a year later, my new car will be paid off – then I’ll be non-mortgage debt free! And that means more to me than having a zippy little convertible. Because then I will be that much closer to financial freedom.