Three Wishes

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, since I think it is such a fun concept. Krystal at Give Me Back My Five Bucks and J at BudgetsAreSexy asked what we would do with 3 financial do-overs. All of this, of course, inspired by Adam at Finanical Relationship apparently creating a personal finance money genie.

So I have thought a bit about this, and I realized that these are questions that will most undoubtably change as I get older and more wiser. But so far, for the first 10 years of my life handling my own finances, here are my answers:

1) Not opened up a credit card so young. I did this at 19 or 20 because I wanted to start establishing credit. My first card had a ridiculously low limit and for … oh…. about 4 months I was VERY good with it. Then I started the justification phase “Well, I’m only a college student right now, some day I’ll make a lot more money and then I can pay it off”. Hey, 20-year old SS4BC! Don’t pay for today with the money from tomorrow! Enter in about $12,000 of my $16,000 debt.

2) Bought a different car. Now, I need to buy a car. My first year in grad school I was in a car accident and my 10 year old Ford Escort was beyond repair. I needed a reliable vehicle and since I just started graduate school it felt right to have a new car for a new phase in life. I ended up buying an $18,000 car that now, 5 years later, runs like shit. But the thing is, I spent a lot of the money in that car on things that don’t really matter – leather seats, power locks, sun/moon roof, 6-disc CD player, fancy wheels, ect, ect. I could have bought the “base model” that would get me where I needed to go for only $12,000. Better yet, I SHOULD have bought a 2-3 year old model of that car (or a more reliable car) for even less. ALSO I ended up paying for this car with student loans. I should have bought a car that I could AFFORD to pay the monthly payments for. And if that is only a $5,000 car – so be it.

3) Laser Surgery. Now, just to be clear, I LOVE how it turned out. And I DEFINITELY am glad it was done. The cost of having it done was just unbelievable – and much more than they advertised and I realized it would be. However, the results are pretty awesome. I’ve written a separate post on laser surgery and how much it cost me. All told, I spent $8,000 on this and ran myself financially amok.

And the common theme running through all of these purchases is simple: Don’t pay for things today with money from tomorrow.

And this is something that I’m still struggling with, but I hope I’ve learned a few lessons. Now I know when I go car shopping what I should be looking for, I know not to buy expensive treatments on credit but to wait for the money, and to save so that I don’t have “emergencies” that I need to put on my credit card. And if I don’t make enough money to pay for my lifestyle I need to A) change my lifestyle or B) make more money. And there is no two ways around that!

Laser Hair Removal

Here are my thoughts on it, from a personal and financial point of few:

It is REALLY expensive. At the place I went to they sell a package of 5. And then if you stay on the lasering schedule and buy treatments 6 and 7, you get treatments 8 and 9 for free. I got both my legs and playboy bikini lasering done at the same time. I used all 9 of my playboy lasering and bought 2 more on top of that (so 11 treatments total) and I still have a (semi-significant) patch of hair that remains where it shouldn’t, so it would probably take another 2 treatments to get it removed. For my legs, I’ve done 9 treatments, and the hair on the bottom half of my legs is, for the most part, 90% reduced. I do still have to shave once every 3 months-ish, probably more during the summer (we’ll see). The top half of my legs the hair is only about 50% reduced, and this is mainly because the hair there is lighter.

So I have fairly ideal skin/hair conditions for laser in that I am pasty white and have exceptionally dark hair – which is ideal for selecting the hair follicles. It also took me a year and a half to get through all of the lasering that I did, so it is a time consuming process (you’ll get to know the person that does your treatments VERY well).

Personally, I do and don’t regret it.

I don’t in that I LOVE not having to worry about wearing a swim suit and things like this. Or whether I have to shave for wearing a dress. I’m a pretty lazy person in most aspects of my life, so the simplicity of not having to shave has been pretty sweet.

I do regret it from a financial stand point, but that is because I did it when I couldn’t afford it. I put the initial packages on my credit card, I ended up moving 1/4 of the way through the treatment process, so not only did I have to pay for lasering I also had to pay for airfare every 8 weeks from the Midwest to San Diego (where I was getting the treatments done). Because of all of this, I ended up spending about $8,000 total to have the convenience of only having to shave every 3 months rather than 3 days.

If I had to do it over again I would save up for it first, but then, if I had $8,000 in the bank I don’t know if I would spend it on lasering.

So there are my thoughts, I hope they are helpful. I really enjoy my legs/bikini area now, but at the same time — for $8,000 and nearly a year and a half of laser treatments, and being an ideal candidate for laser, I still have some hair. So keep that in mind.