Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dental costs Followup

For a second opinion, I need to probably pay out of pocket for a second exam. But I called and scheduled an appointment for next Friday at a second dentist reccomended by a friend. When asked over the phone I was informed that a crown will only cost $900 instead of $1350.

That makes me already lean to cancelling my current dental appointment and switching dentists. So what happens with my dental insurance is they have a cap of $1500/year coverage. Unfortunately I'll easily hit that with all the reccomended dental work. So now I have to decide if the work is necessary or if it can wait till say January.

Also I need to determine whether this dentist is trying to sell me unnecessary work or necessary work. I admit to having poor teeth, but 3 crowns and 2 fillings sound like a lot of work. One of the crowns is a replacement, but I hadn't any problems until now. In fact the crown is still in place and doesn't hurt which makes me not want to replace it.

I guess I'll find out next week whether I'm $1-3k out of pocket. Tomorrow I write about my vision problems.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Coupon Trains

I am part of 4 coupon trains currently and am extremely tired of it. It's an awesome concept that every week I get to see and use coupons I usually don't see. But the problem is I only had hoped to be part of 3 trains.

This couponing is costing me a lot of time and I'm feeling rather burnt out. I don't know if I'll make it the entire 3 months I signed up for. I have started saving more money from mail in rebates, etc.

For example I got 8 free movie tickets from a Shaw's promotion for purchasing 6 items. The total cost of the items were less than $5 using coupons and the tickets are each worth up to $10.50. So it was a nice deal. And the items were stuff I can keep like feminine products, toothpaste, floss, and shampoo.

But I find myself still not saving a lot of money on foods. I joined these trains in hopes of saving money on groceries. But I think I've only saved money on toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. I guess I'll look further at my spending when I wrap up this month.

I wonder if others feel so frustrated.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Directv Cancellation

To cancel the directv it would cost $20/month for each month early. So it will cost $60 for us to cancel in July. However we are going to have to pay $20/month extra come June 10th because our special deal from our current internet provider runs out.

I am not sure whether to just cancel the directv and switch to FIOS or try to keep pushing the deal back so we don't have to pay a penalty. One thing I like is the all in one nature of the deal. Also it'll be about the same price in both packages.

Right now we pay $55 for directv and $53 for phone/internet. With the new package we get internet/phone/cable for $99, but to add on the DVR and extra box it costs $17 plus tax (~$10). So we'll be paying about $20 more a month. Sounds like a lot, but we are running out of discounts on both the directv and phone deal of $25/month. So it's about the same price, but we do get HDTV and a multiroom DVR. I think we might take the deal.

Carnival of Personal Finance #102

The 102nd Carnival of Personal Finance is up at tipping for takeout" was submitted.

Two articles I would reccomend are Lazy Man's "Living Large," and Equity Scout's "Investor or speculator."

I think I'm an investor and my DH would be a speculator and we're not living large yet!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tuition Reimbursement or lower salary?

I guess I should be more clear about DH's salary. In some ways he is making less because we are leaving guaranteed money on the table. Every year he gets $x, on his anniversary, then two annual bonuses which vest in July and February. So we are leaving right now $40k on the table, potentially a lot more because he's up again in July. We calculated it's about $15-20k a year.

But at the new job he gets a higher base salary about $12k, not enough to make up for the guaranteed bonuses, but he will get possibly 100% tuition reimbursement. How much is that about $45-60k easy. It's a private school part-time for 2 more years.

Right now this past year we paid $28k thus far for 2 full semesters + 1 summer session for tuitions, fees, books, parking, etc. This tuition reimbursment however is taxed. So we will have to pay taxes on whatever the company gives us. Most part-time people take only one summer session one course, DH is taking two summer sessions two courses each.

How does this factor into the current job offer. Let's say DH makes $x, we have to pay for the rest of this year $15-20k for his school stuff. Now our salary is $x-$15k, or it can be just $x. DH likes that idea where we aren't forking over so much of our salary for private school tuition. His courses are $1200/credit and he takes 8-12 credits a semester. It takes 65 credits to graduate and the school raised the tuition by 4% this fall.

So in emails between DH, HR, his future supervisor, and VP of department they said they supported it and would reimburse his degree. And he's talked with A LOT of people who have used this benefit from the company. The company likes happy people. Also there are NO STRINGS attached to this money so he doesn't have to stay for 2 years. This tuition reimbursment is not an option at his current position.

Thus it's tough to weigh really are we losing or gaining money. We are losing guaranteed bonus money, but we're gaining a tuition reimbursement which we've had to pay out of pocket. And DH would be driven to finish either way, so either we out of pocket it with a higher salary or lower salary and have help.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tipping for Takeout?

Should we tip for takeout? This was asked at a message board. And as a follow up to our eating out thread, we got takeout tonight. So I was wondering should we be tipping for take out? And what constitutes take out?

Is fast food considered take out? Should we tip for fast food? Or is it just for restaurants and do different types of restaurants make a difference? For instance tonight we went to brazilian bbq buffet. Here you go into the line with a box, they give you meat off a skewer and then they weight it. Should we have tipped them for cooking the food? No we didn't. They did not put together our meal, they did not do anything more than cook the food which I am already paying for. So in this instance I didn't tip.

But for a regular restuarant should we tip? Because they have to put together a meal? I don't konw, I don't have a hard and fast rule. But sometimes I tip and sometimes I don't. It may sound strange, but I usually don't tip if it's not busy. Because it doesn't matter. But if it's a busy night, then the extra time it takes away from the tables I do tip. So I guess I'm biased. Is this wrong?

What do most people do? Do they tip or not for take out?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Renegotiating an offer?

DH renegotiated his offer from the new company. They threw in a signing bonus, guarantee of management experience, and assurance of tuition reimbursement. But I suppose this is not the reason he is taking the job offer.

Well DH was asked to propose an idea for an intern coming to work with him over the summer. He wrote up a great idea, he developed actually in grad school, and his boss shot it down. She said it was a plan B. This was not the first time it has happened. She does it a lot. The only time his ideas get heard or used is if he presents them in a larger group setting where others can support his ideas. More than once his ideas have been picked up when presented to others. In fact his proposal was given the thumbs up by two other collegues (equals easily of his boss) who thought his idea great and appropriate for an intern.

So basically even with the pay cut, DH's boss just drove him into the arms of the other company. He didn't negotiate as hard as he could have mainly because he wants more responsibility and opportunity to improve himself. He wants a chance to speak up and be heard. I don't know if this is a mistake or not, but I feel his frustation every time he comes home and his ideas at work have been shot down. I know he feels unproductive and not a member of a team.

So I'd rather have him happy. He looks at this as a chance to control his own destiny and career. This is a chance for him to prove himself. I might add that DH does not currently report to a project manager. At his current company he reports to another person who reports to the project manager, so you can see the overabundance of management. How difficult it can be to move up, and it doesn't leave much room for him contribute.

Well that's it for now, we've decided to move forward and make the best of a strange sitution. I guess the next post will be how much notice to give?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Verizon Deal?

So a door to door person came by today and offered me a deal on Verizon. Just as I was complaining about RCN and the fact I don't have a deal. I was offered a deal for FIOS internet, cable, and phone for $99/month for 2 years. Not a bad deal. Also the contract would be for only 1 year but the price guaranteed for 2 years. That made the deal sound better to me than expected. But I couldn't call up and get this deal, I would have to sign up with the door to door salesperson. This I knew to be truth because I had just called Verizon earlier in the week.

So I decided to hear the saleman out more. Also for another $12/month I could get a multi-room DVR including HDTV. Regular price $20. Another bonus was an extra receiver for $5. I took both deals and was offered all movie channels for $20. That I added on though I was told I could cancel it later. So I scheduled the installation for the end of June.

But I still have my directv contract. I can't decide right now which to do, cancel directv and start the package and pay an early termination fee. Or allow RCN to provide service until we can cancel the directv? The saleman told me that I could push back the installation easily another month by calling and asking for a reschedule but still have the same. I wonder if that's true? I also have 3 business days to rescind my decision by federal law and according to verizon 30 days after installation.

My guess is I'll call directv and see what the early termination fee is. And I'll mull over this for the weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eating out tips?

When you go out to eat how much do you tip? We went out to lunch today, and had a pretty bad experience at a Korean restaurant. The place had great food, decent price, and a nice atmosphere. But the service left a lot to be desired. The server took about 15 minutes to take our order. And the restaurant wasn't busy and there more than enough servers.

I can say this having worked as a waitress during college and afterwards too. So I know how tough it can be to wait on people in a bad mood. But this restuarant everyone just seemed nice. No kids, no yelling. When you have a kid-friendly restaurant often parents are frustrated with their children and trying to have a conversation while eating out. That makes for bad atmosphere.

Anyway back to the topic, the meal came out fast and was hot and good. The server got my DH's meal a little wrong, but we weren't about to complain. He's a super easy going guy, myself personally I would have been irritated but not him. So then the hour was close to being up and we couldn't get the bill. We asked three different servers for the bill, and then finally someone brought it by. Actually the server brought 4 tables as once, and we weren't the only ones who just slapped down a CC and rushed to pay. Every one of the other tables did the same, I guess because they were waiting as well.

Even though this happened we still left a 15% tip, which I still felt GUILTY for. I usually leave 20-25% so I felt really cheap leaving so little. BUT DH felt we should have said something about the service because I felt so cheap. I am not sure who was right. He thought it was explanation enough that we left a 15% tip. I pointed out that's typical. He said it's expected and anything above that is the "real" tip.

Is this right? Is the 15% expected by everyone now? Should you reward bad service? Do you ever mention it? We've only left 1 restaurant for terrible service. But that particular time I talked with a manager because it took 1 hour for our food to come, which it didn't. Thus why we walked out and talked with a manager before we left. We got a gift certificate because of it, sitting there with a server who forgot to put in the order. Thus the sitting. But usually because I've waited tables, I'm more patient.

The one thing I do is the "water" test. Where I determine how much to tip by how often they come back to check on my water. And if they keep the glass full it means they are paying attention.

So should we have tipped 15%? More? Less?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Job Offer?

DH got the job offer he was hoping for today. It was good in some ways but bad in others. One thing is it was a lower cut in salary. Yep, my first thought was "oh dear and crap." Taking a step back in salary sounds terrible, but DH is super excited.

I'm not sure what to think. I guess the bad part is the lower salary. But the good part is that there is greater potential for upper mobility at this new company. How so? Well at the new company DH would have an immediate opportunity to manage someone, potentially 2 people. At this current company it's likely he will not get a chance to manage someone for at least 5+ years. The problem is that his company is top heavy so opportunities to move up is tough.

So the question is it is worth it to switch companies? I don't know, basically we're leaving $40k of stock, not options but actually stock on the table. But DH has an opportunity to move up. He also will get $15k in stock and possible tuition reimbursement which could easily make up the $40k in stock he's leaving on the table. Also DH will lose a week of paid vacation instead of 4 weeks he gets 3 weeks. Another considertion is DH will lose the 4o1k company match of 4.5% which at his current employer immediately vests. At his new company though the match is more generous 6%, it takes 4 years to vest. Another considertion is the current company allows up to 15% ESPP, but the new company only 10%. That is another small way we earn a bonus annually because we max out our contributions.

Another issue to consider is at the new company we definitely have an opportunity to move back to the West Coast because they have a site out there. So that sort of plays into our long term goals and aspirations. Also the new company is very acceptable to people switching positions within the company, they believe that a valuable person should be kept happy. DH's new boss went from science to marketing/business development back to science. So the new company is out to make the workers happy. The old company, they are very unsupportive of the MBA and haven't shown any willingness to work on DH's career track. He feels his ideas are ignored and his overall happiness at the company isn't considered.

This is something we're going to have to weigh carefully. But any thoughts would be appreciated.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Negotiating internet discount?

Our current internet/phone is provided by RCN. We are getting a $20/month discount for one year but our package which expires 6/10. I tried calling RCN today but they wouldn't discuss extending our discount for another 6 months or a year. So I tried calling Verizon and Comcast. But neither companies had really great deals. Plus we're stuck in a directv contract until August.

So getting package deal is difficult. I don't know how to negotiate with them. Right now I'm weighing different options. I wonder whether to cancel everything and start fresh. I hate playing these games where I have to constantly switch to get the "new" deals offered to customers. I wish that companies would just give existing customers the deals they offer to new customers so we wouldn't have to play these games. But I suppose if people felt they were getting the best deals, there wouldn't be any deals.

RCN said I should wait until our current deal expires then call again. What do most people do?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mail in Rebates

This weekend I really need to do about 5 mail in rebates. But I'm feeling sort of lazy and not up to the challenge. Anyway I got back my first mail in rebate for $10. Not bad, for buying beef and seafood. I also got back surprisingly the movie tickets for purchasing 6 different health and beauty items from my store. In all I spent about $6 on beauty items like ricola, ob, herbal essences shampoo, reach dental floss, crest, and colgate TP. I'm going to try again with DH's name and see if it works, I bought items yesterday for $7 more dental floss, atkins bar, hand soap, crest tp, excedrin, and listerine pocket packs. Just for buying these things I get 4 movie tickets up to $10.50 each, which is quite a lot. I think it's a steallar deal. Now if I could get everything for less than $5 that would be awesome, but unfortunately I don't get the best coupons.

I also usually don't do mail in rebates, but the ones I have to do are Walgreens Easy Saver Catalog, I should get back about $40. Also I'm doing a lipton ice tea deal spend $25 get $10, I bought $40 for $8 last week, so I'll make a little on the deal. I have to say I love the lipton to go packs, I could have made more if I bought the cheaper bulk deals, but it's something I like and use. I also am mailing in a $8 Tostito's rebate, I bought 6 Tostitos for $7 so again I'm making a buck. Luckily DH loves Tostitos. I usually never buy chips, but when it's $6 for $10 I'll do it.

Do you like MIR? Find it useful? I usually don't but, these deals are too good to pass up.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Extra coupon shopping savings...

Okay since I've been couponing, I've obviously become more obssessive about my grocery spending. But one way couponing has saved me A LOT of money is by carefully looking over every item on my bill and making sure I'm paying what I expect to be paying. How so? Well for awhile I would just sort of estimate the cost of what I purchased and unless it was extremely off, I would assume that everything had rung up correctly. Since late february when I started couponing and tracking my spending I've caught the supermarket at least 3 times making a mistake on pricing. The most recent occurred today.

What happened is that the store forgot to remove the sale stickers from last week. Thus it said $2/5 when it was regular price. I was walking out of the store, looking at the bill and wondering why it was about $5 higher than I predicted it to be. So I went through each item and found two items incorrectly priced. It really bothered me. Though I was with DH, and he hasn't come grocery shopping in 3 months, I decided to go back in.

I politely explained to the store that they had incorrectly charged me the price. The customer service representative told me that was the right price. I explained that was not possible, because I saw the sign for $2/5. The service person said well it was a mistake because the computer was ringing up the item at $4.29. I explained that I felt it was misrepresentation of the item, and I wouldn't have bought it otherwise. Also I did use a coupon, but only because I thought the item was on sale. I explained that the stickered price should be honored. The representative called the manger who explained that "just this once" they would honor the price.

I left fuming. It was their mistake, at which point I was ready to ask for my money back and return the items out of principal and tell them to get my coupons out of the machine. How can they justify their laziness in improperly labelling the prices of items? It's not like I went around switching price tags, no the store just didn't correctly price the item as no longer on sale.

This is one of my hugest pet peeves and since moving out East, I've noticed it happens a lot more than in CA. I think part of the reason is that in CA there are a lot of grocery chains, i used to live by 3, plus walmart, costco, sam's, trader joe's, whole foods, etc. Out here there are only two grocery chains, so the selection they know is limited. I can't just not shop at the store because they piss me off, because I don't have anywhere else to go.

So I guess coupon shopping is helping me in other ways as well. Now I'm consciously checking every single item down to the penny. I used to do this when we were on a tighter budget but got lax over time. Now since I record my transactions I am more careful. I don't know whether to be happy or disappointed that I have to watch my stores so carefully.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Buying Furniture?

I'm convinced I need to buy furniture but I hate trying to buy furniture for our house. There aer two major problems. One is size. We live in an 1880s Victorian converted townhouse, so our staircase is extremely narrow. We have three stories with our master bedroom being a converted attic. Sure our house is charming, but there is no space to get furniture upstairs. It's tough to even get stuff to the second floor!

So for us, we looked at 2 bedroom sets, and all furniture stores send a professional mover out with the furniture's measurement to measure for themselves if it will fit. I know how to measure, but these people do it professionally and can really tell if it will fit. After all our staircase has two solid walls so the width is less than 30 inches wide. Our TV made it upstairs but only after the movers dented the wall! Our neighbors who moved in after us, left their master bedroom set on the first and second floors and bought a whole new set for the master bedroom because it wouldn't fit. Our queen bed didn't fit until we bought a split boxspring.

Second problem is cost. We want to buy really good quality furniture that will last a long time. And that appears to cost a lot of money. We have no good quality furniture right now most of our stuff was used or free. We didn't spend more than $100 on anything, and that might have been for the dining set we bought to sell our old condo. We didn't have a dinner table, we bought a super cheap set for $100 and have kept it. It's so small that if we sit facing each other our knees bump. But we're the only people who eat at home, so why bother? I guess my other problem with cost is this is not our final home. I hate the idea of moving and not having our great furniture fit. That would drive me insane to have to rebuy stuff because it doesn't work with our new house layout. Also my parents are talking of downsizing and if they do, I really would love their dinner table. Yes it would cost a small fortune to ship, but it would be worth it, as it's 100% Koa wood, very hard to get anymore.

So right now I'm looking at craigslist for more used furniture. But the main hassle is figuring out what fits.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Floating money to company...continued

I forgot to mention that today DH comes tomorrow! Yeh! Anyway when he left last Saturday, it turns out that his ticket booked by the company wasn't paid for. What? He got to the airport and was told he didn't have a ticket, he had a reservation but it was never paid for. He was like what? So he plunked down the CC and paid $1600 for a ticket between the coasts. I am only writing this now because he just sent me his new itinerary and what he paid. I am flipping out, and extremely unhappy with the company right now. Plus he gets in much later because his original flights were filled! So he had to get on different flights.

The idiocy of the company is outrageous. They say they get corporate discounts, but what discount when you are paying at the ticket counter? Same thing happened with a car. I just don't get what is going here. I mean they acted as though it was all confirmed and DH had to just show up. He knew he'd had to pay for the car, and the airline tickets I thought we paid for 2 months ago? So now I'm not sure what is going on. This is so stupid and we're out about $3k for a week trip to conference and the company has to reimburse us. And if they had just let us book it on Orbitz it might have been at $300 ticket!

I don't understand sometimes how companies function. They act like they are saving money when in reality they aren't. Instead they are wasting it on stupid things like using travel agents, etc. Enough of my rant, at least DH is coming home safe and sound. And we're going to a birthday party this weekend for a kid. I bought him the Thomas the Train plug in game controller, cool!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tradition of Supporting one's parents?

So him over at MakeLoveNotDebt, posed a very interesting question here about parents expecting support from children because of their cultural background. There was a huge amount of responses, plus many other bloggers including mapgirl, LA money guy, etc discussed their thoughts about this. What do I think?

Well I personally believe that parents shouldn't expect their children to support them in retirement. Why? Because their kids will likely be struggling with raising their own children, saving for retirement, and a mortgage. So it'll be tough for them to support their parents. But as we know this is not the case in Asian society.

Historically in an Asian society, parents come and live with you, raise your children, and you support them. It's not uncommon for multi-generational households to exist. Nor is it uncommon to send money home to your parents for their enjoyment. But often these same parents have paid completely for college, graduate school, and a DP on a car and a home, so they have given a lot to their children, possibly at the expense of their retirement. Well thought out? No. Feasible? Maybe.

I don't know, I preach saving for retirement over college savings. I also preach depending on your children a bad idea, and I firmly believe that. HOWEVER, I myself personally will be helping out my parents and in-laws. And DH is in sync with this feeling. We are both children of immigrants so to us, we were raised a bit differently. We do not want our children to support us, but we are hoping to help our parents. Our parents have been extremely successful, but they have also supported their parents financially. So to us we've sort of known since we've meet that we're going to help our parents out financially as soon as we can. That's part of our living large.

Our plans? Well we hope to have a large house to allow any family member who needs to live with us. Second, we plan on purchasing three homes, one for us, and one for each of our parents. This home will be ours but our parents can live there rent free if they choose. Ideally we'd like to live somewhere cheap enough that we could buy land and build three homes, but it's unlikely. Currently my widowed grandmother has the offer on the table to come and live with us. What??? Yes, we've offered and we meant it. Right now she lives in my parents second home. Guess that explains why I feel we should be buying homes for both our parents near to us. DH suggested building the home by the way, so I'm not railroading him into anything.

So I can see how what I'm saying save for retirement, don't count on your kids, etc sounds contradictory to what I'm doing. But to me personally I want to help my parents. This is NOT them asking AT ALL. I am not obligated, but I am choosing to help them. With my in-laws the same thing, they are NOT asking for help, but we want to help them. We would like to be able to make sure they are able to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.

I won't jeopardize our retirement for this, but I will try and maximize our earnings, not spend foolishly, and save as much as possible. This is probably another reason DH and I need to save so much now, and not have children yet. Because we are trying to build a large enough cushion to help our families.

So culturally do Asian parents expect this? Maybe, I don't know. I think personally that it is more a sense of respect and gratefulness that you feel to your parents that drives this feeling of owing them something. It's not forced giving, like giving away to tithe, you do it because you want to. And we want to give our parents things, we'd love to buy them cars and take them on trips. Hopefully in 10 years we'll be able to afford it. And we'd love for them to never worry about money because if need be we can help.

But obligation and duty are not the reasons we are doing this. It just makes us happy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fronting money for a company?

DH is away at a conference. The company is of course paying for it. But we are forced to front the bill for the week. So then they will reimburse us for rental car, airline ticket, food, gas, etc. I think this is very common, but I wonder what do people do who are in debt?

We currently float it on a CC until the reimburstment comes in. But for those who are in debt and not using CC, I wonder how they front the money? I mean this week is going to cost us over $1k easily and what would others do?

I wonder how do people handle having to front money for a company when they are in debt? I mean when you draw a line in the sand, how do you handle a company asking you to front so much money? I mean I can only imagine people who travel extensively for their company. Do they have company CC? Or do they just put everything on one CC and file it once a month? Still what if the reimbursement doesn't come quickly? How do you float that money? I mean for a lot of people the costs of hotels, airfares, cars, can quickly eat up a salary.

I think it's just an interesting dilemma. I know a lot of DH's b-school classmates have to front the costs for their companies. They have no other choice, that or no job. And they travel extensively. Most enjoy racking up the miles or CC perk, but I think it would bother me if it was a continuous thing. Right now this week is bothering me because I know it'll be reimbursed, but it's a nice chunk of change still. And if it wasn't reimbursed then what?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Carnival of Personal Finance #97

The Carnival of Personal Finance #97 is up at My Open Wallet. I submitted my article "being wothy of money...martial argument #4.

This is amazing the 100th edition of the Carnival. Wow, who knew it'd be around so long. One article that hit close to home was by Golbguru "Husband, does your wife know how to invest?" This article make me think of my parents. My mom doesn't know how much money they have, she'll find out when my dad dies, and I'll end up managing it. Yep, she doesn't manage her own money at all. Guess parents don't like to admit deficiences.

Another good article but not so serious was by the digerati life called "extreme makover - pay taxes." Gives good insight into having to pay taxes for reality TV.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Just a quick thank you to all the great Mom's out there. Missing mine right now and hoping she's having a blast. I am thinking that life is more enjoyable when you have people you love to share it with. I'm all alone with my kids today, DH is out of town for work. Guess I'd better go hang out with my children (the boys).

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Marital financial bliss? part

Yesterday I talked about being unworthy of money. Now I'm going to talk about gift giving because it sort of continues the thread of thought. On Thursday I mailed out Mother's day gifts to my family. I enjoy gift giving so I give because I like it. Anyway I bought MIL a card for DH to give her, he's seeing her this weekend at his conference in SD. I offered him a gift basket I made for my family members but he said no.

So here is a difference between our families. I give gifts to my side, but DH has decided he's tired of gift giving to their side. In our years together I think I've gotten a gift the very first Christmas I meet my in-laws and that's it. No birthday, no other Christmas, nothing. Have I given them a gift? Yes. Every year because I felt it fair given that I give it to my parents.

But I think I'm starting to come around to DH's feelings. He feels that people in his small family don't exchange gifts so we should stop giving them a gift. Actually we should stop giving them even a card he says because his parents think we're killing trees and wasting money. Don't bother, just give them a ring instead.

I'm really bothered still by this though, and yes I know I shouldn't. But here I am spending a small fortune on my parents, aunts/uncles, grandma, sibs, etc, and ignoring DH's family.

Is this accceptable since DH says no? Should I just give up after 8 years and say it's stupid and ignore any holidays, birthdays, etc? Will it be weird when we have kids and they get nothing, but my side of the family sends them gifts?

I guess this is an argument that doesn't have an answer unless you readers want to weigh in and tell me what to do. I'm really stuck for once. And I yes can afford their gifts, it's just that when I sometimes buy them a gift, DH gets mad and says don't send it. So I end up with a gift I don't send.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Being worthy of money...marital argument #4

One huge difference between cheap and frugal people is - cheap people never feel like they are worthy of money thus are unable to spend money; while frugal people know they are but choose not to spend it.

DH's family are the type of people who lived without. Though they had money they severly limited their spending to the point where they caused their children to feel unworth of money. How so? Well they had one of anything and never more than one. Which is why if I buy more than 1 item at a time (even a sale) DH gets mad. We argue, and he doesn't want me to buy it. I've decided since couponing and even before that you buy things when on sale that you use. I agreed not to be a hoarder, but he has to agree that buying 5 bottles of tomato sauce on sale is not being a spendthrift.

Also DH's parents limited clothing wear and food. They ate what was served and no more. They could eat what was in the cabinets, but food was always portioned out. Yes great for weight control, and probably why I need to lose 20 lbs, but seriously I love food. I enjoy going to the fridge and pulling out whatever I want to eat. I also believe that you can own more than 7 days worth of clothes, DH used to own one weeks worth of clothes, and not buy more until there were holes. Also he patched some of his clothes. Even now he's got 2 weeks worth of clothes, only replaced when there are holes and that's only because we don't have a sewing machine.

I don't like this feeling of always being deprived. I enjoy spending money, but DH never feels worthy of anything. If I demand we buy something, he's happy. For example I demanded we buy dishes, pots, pans, etc after we got married and had GC to macy's. He didn't want to, felt it was very expensive even though we registered. Well he loves them and we use them almost everyday. Now MIL came to visit last year and what happened? She critisized us for buying new pots, pans, dishes and said we were obviously spending too much of our money and not saving enough.

She said that it was shameful we had 10 place setting and a new pots and pans set. Mind you we had NEVER in 6, almost 7 years bought anything before. We had used my inherited set from my old roommates, and had their unmatched dishes. And my husband loves to cook, we have a used bread maker, pasta maker, used wine glasses all from friends. But we wanted something we liked and picked out. After that DH complained that we had "wasted" money on our kitchen stuff.

It's just things like that we've been working on since meeting. I just sometimes get really angry when my in-laws are so critical. We were also critisized about thinking about getting a 30 year mortgage.

But I guess this is why I hate the idea of being cheap. Cheap people make the lives of others miserable. They make other feel guilty for spending money. They make others feel like they aren't worthy of $$. They make others feel selfish, spendy for buying anything. So hopefully we'll change this vicious cycle in this generation. And DH will start to enjoy our money and ignore his parents.

By the way, I'm rubbing off on them. My in-laws decided to buy a new couch after 30+ years. They got rid of their IKEA couch they had since before DH was born. Wowsa! I think yet another argument I'm winning.

And this feeling of spendiness..well it's probably why DH won't let me just buy a GPS. He feels it's a huge waste of money and I can only imagine what my MIL will say.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother's Day gifts...

Okay this year for mother's day I didn't send flowers. Instead I spent a small fortune on postage. I shipped my mom, grandma, and aunt's gift. I spent about $55 on shipping for everything. Sounds crazy, well buying gifts online doesn't work. I spend on average $15-20/gift to ship to Hawaii. Also half of the company's don't even want to ship to hawaii because they'd have to use overnight and it would cost $50+. I have found I can only use harry and david and pepperidge farms. I also have found that the food items I order often are damaged or rotten from the shipping. So what am I paying for? One Christmas all my gifts were ruined and everyone had to get their gifts again. I felt outraged.

So this time I made my own care packages of body lotion, make up, chocolate, etc. I have no idea if the food stuff I bought will make it there, but I'm hoping it can't turn out worse than rotten cheesecake. Or decomposing frut baskets.

I know Mother's Day is supposed to be for getting together with your mother, but since mine is so far away I am just sending her a gift so she'll know I at least thought of her. In an aside, my MIL got nothing, I bought her a card DH is giving her, but he declined sending her a present.

I guess that will be my next post.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Trading in Games...

DH finally let go of some old games. Finally. He is such a packrate we have texbooks that should be thrown out but he refuses. He can't let go of anything. We kept 5 years of worth of bills before we moved and threw most away.

Anyway though we traded in games and got $100 store credit. What'd we do? We bought Paper Mario and Super Mario Party 8 (Coming out end of the month) instead. I am dying to play but I'm sitting here instead writing on my blog and trying to put together stupid mother's day gifts to go out in the mail. Unfortunately everyone's gifts will get there late.

We also splurged and spend $21 and bought a second nun-chuck for the Wii. Which I feel is worth it because I'm dying to start playing dual games. Currently we've sort of been just switching off.

So do I feel it was worth it? Totally, I suppose our gaming addiction will eventually end when we have kids, but for now it's fun. I have no idea why we enjoy it, perhaps because we grew up with super nintendos. Or people just around our age got into computers and games. I don't know, but I do think we're slightly unusual to be buying these systems and games.

Although I have to say, these new systems are not priced for kids. I don't know how parents afford buying these systems and $50/pop games for kids. Not to mention the controllers are another $50. I hurt when I buy them, but at least I work and spend my own money. And when I have kids I know DH is hoping for a boy to play with. But most parents in their 30s+ probably don't play these games with their kids. Except maybe starting now. But how can they just pay $250+ for one gift? Maybe if you have more than one kid, it can be Christmas.

But I'm off to walk the dogs and fire up the game for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Marital financial bliss? part 3..

Okay we would be in pure marital financial bliss if not for one small monetary argument. One which I hope to win this month. I want a GPS for my birthday. Yep, I've been dying for one. But the cost is prohibitive. So I haven't really pushed on the issue. But one of our biggest fights as a couple is navigation.

Yep we scream at each other in the car, walking on the street, etc. I never know where I am going or what direction I am headed. I can look at a map and still lose track of our course. It drives my husband insane. I also hate driving, but am the better driver. However whenever I drive DH unfortunately can't navigate because he gets carsick looking at map. Great. And yes he knows where he's going but can't read even the printed google.maps directions because he's feeling ill. So I am stuck driving, reading direction and trying to figure out where to go.

So you are probably thinking how bad can you be? I'm very bad, I have no internal compass and a complete lack of direction. DH says it comes from being raised on an island, I look at the ocean and say wow go towards the ocean. I use landmarks to retrace all my steps. I also cannot feel N, S, E, or W when standing still.

So to me the investment in a GPS would save a tremendous amount of stress. We would no longer fight if we just paid $300 or so for a portable GPS. I wouldn't have to wander around walking and trying to figure out which direction I'm going in. I wouldn't have to try to read a map in a car with someone screaming at me. And DH can sleep in the car without me yelling at him that I'm unable to read the map and drive at the same time.

What say you? Please weigh in and perhaps I can convince my DH that I need this $300 investment. Also suggestions for a GPS is good.

Monday, May 07, 2007

New Job Offer?

Okay DH interviewed for a new job, he hasn't been at his current position very long only 18 months, but he really wants to switch jobs. There are both financial and logistical considerations. First his current job is not very supportive of his part-time MBA. They said they would be, and the VP of the department fully supports him, mainly because he has an MBA/PhD as well. But the rest of the people don't. So he doesn't enjoy this work environment.

Also the company is not paying for any tuition reimbursement, so we're footing the entire $75k ourselves, over 3 years, which is a lot of money. This does not include books and other stuff, this is purely tuition costs. But we feel this is a phenomenal investment in him and well worth it.

The company he interviewed at fully reimburses tuition for all employees. They feel that a happy employee is easier to keep. And that people who are trying to improve themselves are better employees. So that would add an extra $50k to DH's salary over the next two years if we don't have to pay for tuition. Plus the work environment supports people's desires to go to school.

With that being said, the current company DH works for is very generous salary, bonus, and especially company stockwise. Meaning he gets twice annually company stock bonuses (July/Feb), plus an annual signing bonus December, an annual cash bonus (february), and is suppossedly well paid. So we're in a tough situation of thinking what would it take for DH to move?

He makes $x, then his bonus was 8% cash February, $2k stock February, he gets an extra $2k July, $10k December, and his raise was 4%. Not too shabby. Plus decent company benefits, including now an extra week of vacation added this year to make 15 days of paid vacation. So which is more valuable?

Assume same pay, same bonus, same raises, then the stock is about $14k versus the tuition reimbursement of $25k/year. Is it worth it? Well we'll see because he doesn't have an offer in hand, nor does he know what they would offer by way of company stock.

However he is leaning towards switching because one huge bonus is the new company is going to give him immediate management experience and track him on that course. Where he is currently he will be unable to move upwards because they are a top-heavy company with a lot of people much more senior than him. A neighbor recently left as well because of the difficulties in moving up in the company.

He explained that for many people though, they are happy there because the compensation is extremely generous. Though you don't get promoted or more responsibility the company will give very generous bonuses and company stock to get you to stay.

So less responsiblity = more money, but no upward mobility. But more responsibility = potentially less money. Tough call. I'll keep people updated because I think we'll make a decision in the next month.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

April 2007 Net Worth Update

My DH hates the fact that I used to post our networth, but I still like tracking it. So this month we had a funny month. I took out $1000 on our HELOC which is bugging me but I didn't sell some stock I meant to because it didn't hit my target price to pay some bills. I will do it actually this wednesday after the earnings come out, which I predict should increase the stock to my target price. If not I'll sell and pay of the $1k I meant to pay of earlier.

Lots of bills this month, our property taxes, more tuition payments, etc. But a good month in some ways, I accidentally paid our mortgage twice um, so that contributed to our cash shortage. But it caused us to increase our net worth by 3.54%. We also had a lot of retirement savings hit at once in the 401k and Roth IRA, increased that by 27.7%. Also our stocks took a small hit of 15%, hence the HELOC.

Anyway though my goal is to break the $200k networth soon, our biggest problem has been getting our stocks to cooperate. We shall see, right now we're still at $196k, though we've contributed to the 401k and Roth IRAs this year. Arrgh, frustrating. Anyway though I didn't count on our ESPP, that will cash out this month for about $8-10k, already again earmarked for tuition.

Positives, our stocks are going up after a bad feb/march. And we are paying a ton of cash for school with ZERO reimbursment from work.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

New Car = status symbol?

Okay a bit late, but I never seem to post on the weekend. And with summer coming up I know I'll post less because we'll be outside and working on the house, etc.

Anyway DH comes home on Thursday and tells me "Wow, I want a Lexus." I laugh at him and smirk and say "Sure when you make 2x what you make now and we still don't have kids, no problemo."

Apparently he got a ride at school to his car by one of his classmates. This guy is also 30ish, married without kids. And his wife is a lawyer so for sure she makes more than me. But besides that, they've had a lot more working years to save up for stuff like housing, cars, and retirement. We haven't. Not that we're doing badly, I'll do a quick net worth update tomorrow, but I think we have other priorities in our lives.

I used to think about 10 years ago that a nice car was ultimate status symbol. And in many ways it is to me. If you can afford a new, expensive luxury car, I'd like to think and believe that people who do that don't have debt, are comfortably saving for retirement, college, and have all expenses well in hand.

I have to fight all the time against this mindset, not only from society but my family as well. I have my mom telling me "all these doctors right out of medical school are driving around in a Benz, Beamer, Lexus..." I reply "well I don't have that sort of money, I have to save for other priorities." Her answer "Well they are probably banking on making more money the rest of their lives, you only live once you know. You have to know how to spend it." My mom forgets the tough early years and wasn't with my dad when he didn't have $$$ to blow.

So I'll forgive her for that, but the truth is that I don't want to bank on money we'll be making. I don't think we should and I don't think we can. I think we should only count on money here and now. And unfortunately here and now we're not making enough to afford it.

But I decided to myself personally, not even consulting DH, that one day I'm going to surprise him with the Lexus. This is when we will have made it, meaning our finances will be well organized, on track, and a luxury like a new expensive won't derail us. We'll be living large. Sure people might come on here and bash me for being materialistic and wanting to indulge DH, but the truth is I don't like saving money.

I wish I were a millionaire who never had to work again. I wish I were so rich that money didn't matter. I save and am responsible with my money because I have to be. Not because I'm a really frugal person. I LOVE traveling and eating out, I would LOVE to pay cash for my kids college and graduate degrees at any school, I would love to give gifts to everyone I know. I like spending money! I am probably an anonmoly in the PF blogger world. But I have to say that I only am responsible because I was taught to behave so, think it's right, but if I have the chance I will live large.

So anyway just thought I'd share my thoughts on getting our day in about 10 years I predict we'll buy it. Now if only our crackerjack cars last that long.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Marital financial bliss? part 2..

I guess this time around I'll debate whether it's better to have seperate or joint accounts. I've found it to be easier personally if we have all joint accounts. Mainly because without one another we didn't have enough money to cover the bills individually. So it was a lot of hassle to have to keep giving each other a check for pretty much the whole paycheck, just so we could pay the bills.

But I can see how people have seperate accounts to have some privacy. I am writing this because I'm debating whether we should have seperate accounts for gifts, blow money etc. Right now we don't have a set budgeted category for either. In the earlier post I wrote we don't do gifts, and will discuss it if there is something we want. So we're not huge suprise gift givers.

I've also found that by sharing we're more accountable to each other. Because there is only one bill, we can't hide purchases really. And we use very little cash, and ATM withdrawals call attention to themselves. So I'd ask what'd you buy and the same with DH. But there is the possibility that we could open out individual CC and charge things on it. And have the bill sent to work. But where would the payment come from since we have a joint checking account?

I know we wouldn't do that to each other, but if we had seperate accounts would it be easier to spend money over budget? I wonder if people are more tempted when they know they aren't easily accountable to a spouse? I wonder if I would be? I know I would spend more money foolishly if I didn't have to answer for it. If I had $100/month or more in a checking account I might be tempted to eat out everyday or something.

So joint accounts probably work better for us personally. Do I think we'll get there? Maybe when we make 2x what we make now, we'll allow ourselves individual accounts. Because we'll be able to live large!

What do you and your SO do?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

5 cent nickel site review

Okay so a website called 5 cent nickel, just had his second year anniversary. He is giving away prizes for reviewing his website announced in this post. He's running a contest to give away prizes so here I am trying to win the prize, but also I am enjoying writing a review. Why? Because Nickel's site was one of the first blog's I ever read and inspired me to start my own blog. Which is not as popular nor as well read as his blog, but I decided to start blogging anyway.

So what can I say about his blog? It's a great site, very informational. He posts really great articles, and had actually written posts regarding my questions to him through email. So I have to say I've enjoyed the interaction. 5 cent nickel is also a blog I try to read daily. Often times his posts let me to think about my own life. But perhaps one of my favorite aspects about his financial blog is that it lead me to his personal life blog, raising4boys.

This is one of my all-time favorite blogs. I think it's simply amazing that Nickel and his wife both share the blog and tell the most amazing stories about kids. I read it everyday so I can laugh about his kids. They are amazing. The personality of Nickel is very funny and humorous. I think the posts on raising4boys, really give some insight in having kids that is not often shared by parents. Like planning birthday parties, saving money, etc. I really want kids and this site just makes me laugh about it.

I know I'm suppossed to be reviewing 5 cents nickel, which is a great site. BUT check out raising4boys if you have chance as well. Now if only I could get nickel to explain how he decided to have 4 kids and why they chose to have them when they had them. That would be really interesting. And if they plan on trying ever for a girl, or would they adopt.

So shouts out to nickel for publishing two awesome blogs.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Marital financial bliss? part 1..

I wonder if we shouldn't have our own money sometimes. I feel weird buying gifts and stuff out of the community pot. But we don't do anniversaries or Christmas really. We do pseudo birthdays though. JW a blogger asked what frugal idea for his anniversary, and it turns out he did a free super romantic day here. He wrote a love letter, made dinner, walked in the park, and slow danced, wowsa!

So what do we do? Nothing we stay at home, talk, eat, and sometimes buy a gift, the last being DH's tickets to a hockey game. Now for valentine's day we didn't really go anywhere or do anything special. And my birthday is coming up but I'm not sure what we should do. To be honest I love jewelry, but I don't think we can afford it, so that's a no brainer.

And last year I got a dog, which is the gift that keeps consuming. But we usually try to not buy each other gifts and instead just discuss purchases that are fun throughout the year and budget for it.

To us the gift giving is too much pressure, and we feel like we have a lot of luxuries in our lives. Which is really true because we don't have kids. So we can indulge in the Nintendo Wii, go away for a weekend, go snowboarding, etc. So I can't really complain that we don't have fun.

But for us we spend too time and effort trying to get the right gift for the right occasion instead of with each other. This way we just sort of flow our gifts to the opportunity that knocks. Like the hockey tickets, I called it DH's b-day gift/v-day gift because it was so expensive. I wouldn't have done it if someone he works with didn't have a season ticket and offered it to him at the same price to go with him. Will he ever go again? I don't know, but an opportunity presented itself.

So after reading JW's wonderful day, I wonder if we're being really cheap about our relationship? If we should put more effort into celebrating our days? Or is that only for people with kids and us DINKS we have too much free time anyway to always be together. That spending time or money for a special day is not necessary?

Next part is about joint checking...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

True baby costs?

DH and I were discussing kids more seriously this weekend, and we thought about it and decided we were still not quite secure financially. However the debate came up, do we think our parents would help us out a lot financially?

I think we might get away with not paying for childcare, our parents would both come and live with us for awhile and help watch the baby. We were also thinking that we wouldn't need to buy anything for the baby because our parents would likely buy everything. I guess I should add DH is one of two kids and his brother is not even dating. I am my mom's only child so...she'd go hog wild and I think so would my MIL. So what would it really cost us to have a baby?

We sat and talked more and I said, well what if something goes wrong medically? That would probably be the worse case scenario. If we had a mentally or physcially handicapped child it would be detrimental to finances right now. If we waited and saved more money, then if that should happen we would probably be able to swing me staying at home, and paying for all medical bills out of pocket.

I know I'm sounding really dumb right now, but I wonder if this is a reasonable thing to worry about? Having a healthy child? I was quite ill as a young child and the bills were enormous. But back then medical insurance covered a lot more than now I feel. Should this be a concern for us? Do many people have expensive medical bills for having a baby? Also something could go wrong during delivery and would having a c-section be expensive? I know our insurance would cover most of it, but that would be an unexpected expense.

So for now, I guess birth control is still cheaper than having a kid. And we'll just continue saving and thinking about the right time frame for kids. We're still feeling pretty young, not yet 30 either of us. And our parents well they can wait, just because they had kids by 25, doesn't mean we should.