What’s Your Number?

I mentioned in my post about Financial Peace University: Week 6 that Dave was talking about what a “significant purchase” is – and said that for the “average” person the cost for a significant purchase is $300.

This obviously varies depending on what your income level is and what your debt load is. A $300 purchase is more significant when you’re only making $20,000/yr vs $80,000/yr. Also, $300 is more significant if you are making $40,000/yr with $10,000 worth of debt vs NO debt on that salary.

You can tell a significant purpose because you actually get a physiological response from buying it. There is a euphoric high associated with it. Also, there is a strong potential for “morning after” regret. There is a heart pounding response at the cash register of buying something SIGNIFICANT.

So I’m curious for personal finance bloggers – what is your number? At what point do you think a purchase is significant?

For me it is MUCH under $300, I’d say that any one item above $50 is significant for me. I didn’t buy a DVD player for the LONGEST time because I wanted one that was less than $50 so I wouldn’t feel guilty about getting one. I honestly have a hard time placing my finger on a purchase I’ve made over $50 that wasn’t rent, car repairs, or health care.

What is your number?


What if the Recession never happened?

Two and a half years ago I was a mess. I had no savings account. I had no emergency fund. I spent every dollar I had and then some. My credit card was maxed. I “got by” on fortuitous gifts of money from family. Every dollar I got I spent just as soon as it hit the checking account. Mostly because I had gotten myself so deep in to debt that each dollar went to debt payment before my paycheck could even clear.

I had to open up a new line of credit for every emergency, simply because I didn’t have any cash to pay for any of these things.

My only back up in case of hard times was about $25,000 in stocks and mutual funds that I hesitated to touch.

A great thing happened to me about the point where I had maxed my credit card, taken out 4 other lines of credit, and would finish up the last two weeks of each month with maybe $20 for the entire two week period because of my debt: The Recession.

I know that most people probably think of the down turn of the economy as a terrible thing to happen. But for me, financially, the recession was in fact the single best thing that could have happened. My stocks and mutual funds took a huge dip and suddenly I didn’t have enough money in them to pay off my debt anymore. My $25,000 in investments were now only worth $13,000 (and dropping).

Realizing I was worth less than I owed scared the crap out me. And I began to reconsider how I viewed money.

Anyone reading this blog for a while knows that this journey hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been quick. But I’ve been able to save large sums of money for my emergency fund, to move, for a wonderful vacation with my grandmother. And best of all I’ve started to actually turn myself around.

When I started this blog I was “worth” a negative $18,779 – and went another $2,000 lower in the 3-6 months that followed because of the economy. Two and a half years later I’m approaching the $0 mark (I’m currently at -$2,932). This is a huge amount of change on my part.

I know that recessions are supposed to be bad things. I know that I’m supposed to hope for economic growth and recovery. But this recession has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I was forced to take control of my finances. I was forced to face my debt. I was forced to change my lifestyle. And I’m so glad that I did.

What if the recession had never happened? I wonder how long it would have taken me to figure all of this out… if I ever did. How much more debt would I have gotten before I finally caved? A lot more I’d imagine. A lot.

Saying “Yes” is Saying “No”

At a meeting last week one colleague said the following: “Whenever you say Yes to something, you’re saying No to something else”

For some reason this simple statement just struck me hard… like a ton of bricks.

I’ve always been the person to volunteer for everything. If it can be done, I’d volunteer to do it. I’m the “YES!” girl.

In high school I was a member of EVERY club on campus, ran cross country, was active in my youth group at church (also did every activity there), and I volunteered for my local community theatre every night. All while maintaining a perfect GPA. I am the quintessential “Yes” girl.

The hardest lesson that I learned was to say “No” to something I wanted to do.

It was my sophomore year in college and I was, of course, involved in many activities. I was a double Biology and Chemistry major. I (at the time) was also a Political Science minor. I lead an acting group that toured every weekend. I was a member of our Chemistry and Biology clubs on campus. I participated in two different small groups in our dorms. I worked 10 hours a week at our campus tutoring center. I was also a member of the band.

The problem? There weren’t enough hours in the day to be involved in so much, maintain friendships AND get straight As.

I will never forget the tearful conversation I had with my mom the beginning of my sophomore year where I confessed to her that I was too stressed out! I couldn’t do everything anymore. And she told me simply: “You have to drop something.”

By saying “Yes” to all of those activities I had said “No” to free time and enough time to study.

So in order to say “Yes” to study time I had to say “No” to something. That something was band. It was with a heavy heart that I dropped out of band. But immediately after doing so I had enough time for everything. Without practice every day I suddenly had time to do properly study for my classes!

Now I’m a faculty member and I’m starting to realize that I don’t have time for everything I want to do for this school. I want to join every committee. I want to start up a ton of new programs. I want to give great lectures. I want to give interesting assignments. I want to meet personally with every student in each of my classes. I want to grade every assignment within a week. But I can’t say “Yes” to each of those things without saying “No” to something else. For now, my highest priority is quality lectures. Everything else falls in line behind that… and sometimes far behind…

Now that I’m older, I realize that life is a balance between work and home life. If you say “Yes” too many times to things at work, you start to say “No” to home life.

I’m already starting to feel over-exerted by the grading of one of the assignments I gave my students this semester. So much so that it is starting to interfere with my personal life with BF. Instead of saying “Yes” to a fun day of hanging out with him on Saturday, I had to say “Yes” to a full day or grading.

I think that every time I agree to do something from here on out I have to ask myself: What am I saying “No” to in order to do this – and is it worth it?

If it isn’t worth it I need to cast it aside and devote myself and my time to my top priorities.

Used Isn’t A Beater

This is a $3,000 car. Not quite a "beater" yet.

…And not buying a new car now doesn’t mean that you’ll never get a new car and you’ll be doomed to a life of beaters!

My last post seemed to bring about a bit of controversy/conversation on the idea that you could own a car without ever having a car payment.

I will prefice this post by saying that this is a mathematical exercise and NOT something I’ve done. As I mentioned in my last post, I only have bought one car in my life but it was new and I financed. I now have the title for the car and am not making car payments.
Okay, let’s give this a whirl!

Hypothetical scenario: You need a new car! You have $3,000 for a down payment because you’re super awesome.

Let’s say we have two options

Option 1: Finance a new car! With $3,000 down making $30-50,000/yr you should be able to easily qualify for a $16,000 car loan. Let’s say that you get said car loan with 3% interest for 48 months (a pretty standard car loan for those of us with slightly above average credit).

For the purpose of this experiment I’m going to say that we bought a 2011 base model Ford Focus. It is a pretty popular car, and we can compare it to older models. =)

You’re looking at a car payment of $354 for 48 months. Plus you’ll need full insurance while under finance, which I would estimate to be $100-200/month depending on your state.

Over the term of the loan you’ll pay $16,999. Or about $1,000 more than the cost of the car.

According to Edmunds.com, for a 2011 off the lot Ford Focus, you’ll pay $6,427 in the first year you own the car  ON TOP OF CAR PAYMENTS in the form of maintenance, financing, depreciation, financing, taxes and fees. Over the first 5 years you own the car, you’ll put another $12,000 into the car in insurance, maintenance, repairs, depreciation, and taxes. The total cost of that  $16,000 car? $27,483 over the next 5 years.

Not too shabby? Let’s check out how we’ll do with scenario #2…

Scenario #2: Buy without credit. First, let’s say that we take our down payment and instead buy in cash a used Ford Focus. For $3,000 you can buy a used 2003 Ford Focus. Why am I using this as an example? Well, because this is the (near) exact car I drive, and thus I can tell you exactly what the cost of ownership.

We paid $3,000 for this car. Most 8 year old cars have some life in them, especially if they are in decent shape when you buy them. For instance, if you bought my car you’d most likely get another 5-6 years of good life out of it. Let’s say though that you only get 3 years.

The average that I pay for car repairs is $1,000 per year on my car of the same age, make, model, etc. My tax, titling and registration is much less because it is a used car. Let’s say around another $500 total (intentionally high value). So for year 1 we’re looking at spending $1,500 on this car and then $1,000 per year for the next two years after that. Let’s be generous and say that we’ll probably have to replace something really big at it costs us an extra $2,000. So in 3 years we’re spending $5,500 on this car.

However, we don’t have any car payments. So we can be putting that $354 that we were putting towards our car payment in scenario #1 every month into an interest bearing account. Let’s say we go with something modest like ING where we get 1.5% interest.

At the end of 3 years, if we didn’t have to pull anything out of that savings account, we’d have $13,397.05 in it assuming quarterly compounded interest. Subtract from that the $5,500 that we spent on repairs on the car and we have $7,897 sitting in the bank.

And you know what… yah… we did have to drive around a Ford Focus for a while, but coming from someone who drives an old Ford Focus – it isn’t that bad!

Now we have $7,897 – what can we do with it? Well, if we wanted to we could take that money and buy a 4 YEAR OLD Ford Focus in cash (assuming today’s MSRP and depreciation values).  Or if you wanted, you could just keep a couple thousand in that account and buy a five year old Ford Focus for $2,000 less. Let’s say we do that and we keep $2,000 in our savings account and continue to save our $354 per month with 1.5% interest. Since we have a newer car we can drive it a lot longer. Probably 5 years at least! Let’s just assume that we’re still spending $1,000/yr on repairs. So in 5 years we spend $5,000 on repairs for our car.

How much would we be saving during this time? $24,198.16

So by paying ourselves, having interest work in our favor, and by putting off today our nice car for 3-4 years and instead getting a passable used car we’ve over the course of time been able to save $24,198. What can you buy for that amount? Well, you could buy a brand new Ford Focus. Or really a new, affordable car of your choice.

Or you could just buy yourself a new $16,000 car or a slightly used car and just let the rest of the money earn interest for you towards your next car!

Okay… let’s be real… as long as you’re driving a car you WILL have car payments. But would you rather OWE someone for your car and lose money in the long run or buy your car in cash and GAIN money in the long run? You’re either paying some bank $354 per month for the “privilege” of a nicer car before you can really afford it or you’re paying yourself $354 per month and putting interest to work for you!

BTW… sometimes I feel like everyone in the world is like this guy, including myself at times:

How do I afford a $33,000 car while in College?

I went car shopping Saturday for a decent $10,000 Honda Accord, I wanted no older than 05 and I was not satisfied with the prices I was being offered so I walked out on 3 dealers. I have $1,800 I was going to put down but I still wasn’t getting any decent offers.

But then I saw the most gorgeous Camaro… unfortunately it was WAY out of my price range with $33,000 and I didn’t want to get it because the whole idea of me getting a better car was to keep my monthly payments at no more than $350 a month.

SO… I was curious as to how to get my payments around $300 with a $33,000 car?

I’m obviously going to save a lot more money, I was thinking a $10,000 down payment?
I make about $650 average a paycheck… So every month I get close to $1,400 a month and I’m hoping to go back in Mid-March with as much money as possible… How do I make my monthly payments really low with such an expensive car?

Selling Your Body to Pay Off Debt

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to selling my body… for science.

You see, a company in town does clinical trials, and the compensation for each of these trials ranges from $700-4,000 depending on the length of the trial. Most of them require overnight observation.

I fit the category for doing a lot of them since I’m a healthy weight, a non-smoker, and I take no drugs of any kind (not even birth control).

The idea of getting paid nearly $4,000 to be “observed” for 2-6 nights over the course of a few months is pretty appealing.
Obviously there are risks, these are experimental medications. They’re looking for side effects, changes in how my body functions. I would literally be selling my body for science. But the idea of getting paid…. thousands of dollars… man, if I could do just 5 of these things I could pay off my debt. That is some serious dough.

It is always good to think of some creative ways to pay off debt… but is selling my body for medical research trials going too far?

The Highway

I was talking with BF the other day about the future. Thinking about my post where I imagined my life in 5 years.

It occurred to me while we were discussing the future and what we want from our lives that the different between successful people and unsuccessful people may not be in ability, but instead on direction.

In a way I think of life as a highway. And as I see it there are four different paths we can take when it comes to the highway.

The Go-Getter

I actually doubt many of these people exist. But I imagine them being people who not only know where they are going in life, but also know how to get there. They’ve sat down, planned it all out, and they’re ready to go. The get on the highway, start driving, and they go to their desired destination. They may get off at a few different exits along the path, but they know eventually where they’ll end up. Or if they do change their mind about where they want to be they sit down and plan an exist route to their new destination. (I’m not a Go-Getter.)

The Wanderer

I think a lot of college students are wanderers. They get on the highway, they drive, and they hope they’ll end up somewhere good. They don’t have a lot of ambition towards a particular destination, but hope that they’ll enjoy it when they get there. Maybe as they start driving they find a highway they like and stay on it for quite some time, and maybe eventually a destination. I could definitely say I fit in to this category. I wasn’t sure where I was going when I first started out in life, but I knew that if I just kept going I’d get somewhere. And sure enough, I got somewhere and I love it!

The Lost

I sort of imagine the lost as those who knew where they wanted to be but didn’t have the ability to read a map. So they wanted to be an M.D. and got on the highway to nowhere instead. Maybe they lost their way, maybe they got distracted, maybe they were too high on themselves to simply ask for directions, or maybe their car wasn’t good enough to take the long trip. So they pulled over, or maybe they’re spinning in circles not sure what they’re doing. They’ve lost their way, if they ever had it. Their destination is still in mind, but they have no clue how to get there.

The Scared

This group is afraid. Afraid to even get on the highway. Afraid to start a journey. Afraid to pick a destination. Afraid that destination might be wrong or that they may go on the wrong path and become lost. Afraid to try anything. So they don’t imagine for the future, they don’t think of a path. They blame everything around them for why they haven’t taken a journey: Their parents, their financial situation, their family, their “can’t give up” means-nothing 8-5pm job. They’re scared to think of the future, think of the possibilities, to go out of a limb, get in the car – and just drive. They’re afraid they’ll mess up – but their real mistake was letting fear stop them from getting anywhere.

Where are you on the highway of life? Are you going straight towards your intended destination? Have you pulled off on a detour? Are you afraid to even get started?

It’s Winter – Don’t Cheap Out

In case you’ve been living under a rock or have no friends on Facebook who live in the midwest: We had a blizzard here last night. There is currently a layer of a little over 14″ of snow outside my apartment.

This is pretty much what it looks like outside:

Image from Kansas City Star

It is white and beautiful and dangerous!

I have a dog. Which means that even if I don’t have to go to work (which I will have to do tomorrow) I still have to go outside. I’ve realize that I’m thankful for so many things that I made sure to get BEFORE the cold weather started.

1. A decent jacket.

Now. I didn’t go balls to the wall on my jacket. It isn’t a huge parka or the heaviest pea coat you’ve ever seen. It is a basic, run of the mill pea coat that I bought for around $49 before I moved to the Midwest 3 years ago. My secret to keeping warm? I bought a size larger and wear a sweat shirt underneath. I then use the sweatshirt hood as my hat. It works great, I didn’t pay a lot, and I stay warm.

2. Warm gloves.

I have two pairs of gloves. One for moderately cold days that are those cheapy little $1 one size fits all gloves. I wear those most of the times. But on days like this where the HIGH is in the single digits, I pull out my big boys: the thick fleece gloves. I got myself quite a deal on these babies: $14 at Costco. I’m very prone for frostbite and when these things are on my fingers never get cold.

3. Snow boots.

I thought snow boots were retarded the first year I was in real winter (remember I moved from San Diego before this). After my first winter I got myself a cheap pair of snow boots at Target. I don’t remember how much they cost, but I do recall they were the cheapest ones in the store. I also remember I bought the boys ones because they were cheaper than the girls. And they’re black, so I don’t think anyone notices. They keep my feet warm, dry, and are great for stomping on a foot of snow. Three winters in and I’m still digging my snow shoes.

4. Snow pants.

This year I bought myself some ski/snow pants. They were on sale for $65. I was in the store trying every brand they had that was under $100. I was down to two: one that made me look SUPER good in the butt department and one that cost $30 less. I decided that if someone is judging my ass in the middle of a snow storm they’ve got bigger problems and saved myself some money. The pants that I got are two layered, so I tuck the second layer in to my snow boots and put the outer layer over the boots. That way when I’m walking in knee high snow (like I was today) my socks/feet/legs don’t get snow on them. Hands down these pants are the best $65 I’ve spent on snow attire ever.

5. Snow shovel

After I couldn’t get out of my parking spot last snow to get to work, I went and bought a snow shovel. Boy I wish I’d bought it sooner. It only took me about 20 minutes this morning to unpack my car from the foot of snow that surrounded it. The shovel I got cost $20, is ergonomic, easy to use, and fits in my car. Perfect!

6. Car window cover

Dogfood provider let me know of a this very handy contraption when I was considering whether to get a garage or not. I wasn’t so sure about spending $29 + S/H for the one she linked to, but I DID find an cheaper version at Walmart for $8. I use it every night. BF liked it so much I had to get one for him for Christmas, too. I pull it off the windshield and the snow or ice comes right off – it is AMAZING. If you live in a snowy state and don’t have one of these things, you’re truly missing out.

Be Prepared

During these cold winter months please stay prepared. Don’t drive if you don’t have to. If you do have to drive please make sure that you have a flashlight, a blanket, some water, and a bit to eat with you. No one ever knows when trouble is coming, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Also… if you were flying out of Kansas City – CONGRATS if you were going to Providence:

Image from Kansas City Star

Financial Infidelity

The Consumerist had a great article yesterday talking about Financial Infidelity that mentioned the results of a Forbes study that was done. Some highlights:

An online poll commissioned by ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and conducted by Harris Interactive, surveyed 2,019 U.S. adults from December 17 to 21 and found that 31% of those who combined finances had admitted to lying to spouses about money.

This is of course disturbing to me in a number of ways. Why were they being dishonest? What is it they were trying to hide? Some of the comments on The Consumerist alluded to the tie between sexual infidelity and financial infidelity.

But honestly, I think the more strict the relationship is on money rules, the easier it is to being financially unfaithful.

There are a lot of PF bloggers that are engaged and getting married soon. Blonde and Balanced has been exceptionally open about how her and G are combining everything 100%.

Honestly, I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I could pool everything together. I think such blanket honesty about every little purchase would drive me nuts. “Why did you spend $45 at Best Buy last week?” “Excuse me, we’re trying to save for a trip to Tahiti, why did you spend $5 at Starbucks yesterday?”

I’d rather know they have their own set of money and they can do with it what they want and that’s it. They can save if they want, they can spend it on video games if they want, they can splurge on a nice gift for me if they want. 😉

Some would say that it takes greater trust to combine all the finances as one. Where there is one checking account with two names. While I understand the logic of this I also think there is a lot of trust that is placed in someone by knowing they’ll do the right thing with their own money – no questions asked.

BF and I hadn’t discussed details of how we would combine finances, but we both believe in a “yours, mine and ours” approach. Maybe part of that is we’re both “older” (I’m 30 and he’s 31) so we’ve both been in charge of our own finances for a long time. We’re used to being the only one’s who have say over where our free spending money goes and we’d like to maintain that freedom. (However, he has said that he is fully willing to give over all bill paying, saving and retirement duties to me if I wanted… how kind…)

I can definitely see if I was in a relationship where I had a 100% combined finances opening a little side account that my spouse didn’t know about – especially if marital times were tough. It is completely dishonest to the relationship, but in the same way one might sneak phone interviews in our cars during our lunch break – when you’re not in a stable place relationship-wise – financial infidelity is sure to follow.

Is there a right way to “combine” finances?

I doubt it. I’m sure the right way is whatever way the two people feel comfortable with. I’m less comfortable with complete combination (I’d prefer an 80-90% combined and then we get $100-200/month to do  with what we please). Others would feel that part of marriage is a 100% combination of money. Others might live with a roommate type partnership where each just split everything 50% and keep their accounts 100% separate. I don’t think any way is better than one over the other – but somehow I get the feeling that the more combined the finances are the more likely it is that financial infidelity will occur. I have no hard facts to back that up – just a gut feeling. The more access the person has to every little purchase you make – the more likely it is to lead to an argument – and thus I can see that leading to hiding purchases to avoid fights.

The Forbes article includes those who have combined finances, but of course doesn’t specify HOW the finances were combined.

What do you think? How related do you think financial infidelity and how finances are combined are? Or do you think they are?

The Future of TV

I doubt that anyone under the age of 35 would say that how we watch TV is going to be radically changing in the next few years. With instant streaming available on many new TVs and BluRay players there is absolutely no reason for most of us to continue to use standard cable to access our favorite shows.

We’ve all heard the complaints before and have probably made a few myself “I subscribe to premium cable to get XYZ channel, but I also have to pay for 50 others that I don’t watch.”

What I love about the future of television is that in a sense it is/will be a purely Darwinian survival of the fittest. Only good shows will survive and we the viewers will chose, not some Neilson black box.  And right now there is a race for who will sit on top of streaming media.

Streaming Sports

When I told my dad that I didn’t think that cable television would last much longer he balked “How will people watch sports?”

Easy dad. If you want to watch hockey, you can subscribe to Center Ice. Streaming online hockey games – and you can watch four at a time. I subscribed to this a few years back and loved the service I got. Wanna watch baseball? Football? ESPN3 offers digital streaming of many games. My dad was also able to watch quite a few of the bowl games on live streaming through the affiliate network sites. As well, those of you with XBoxes can get ESPN360. If you want to watch past season games you can always suscribe to MLB.tv, my LG Bluray player streams them as well.

I’m not so big on sports outside of hockey and following Box Scores online. What do I love? SHOWS.

Streaming TV Shows

Right now there are two major contenders for online streaming television shows: Hulu/HuluPlus and Netflix (note: there are other streaming sites, these are just the major players as I see it)

I currently subscribe to Netflix.

I get unlimited streaming to my computer and to my LG Bluray player (and to BF’s PS3) for $7.99 a month. No ads to watch. But I also don’t get current seasons of shows. Which is fine for me because I like going through shows in huge blocks of episodes at a time (I watched all of Lost Season 6 in 2.5 days) and I’m so far behind on most shows it doesn’t matter.

If you’re not like me and you want the thrill of being up-to-date with shows then Hulu or HuluPlus is for you.

Most of us are familiar with Hulu, you get a selection of streaming shows and movies through their site. Here is something that people don’t get, but Hulu only streams to you stuff that is already free to get on other sites. This frustrates the bajezzus out of me when I tell BF “Fringe isn’t on Hulu” – and then he replies “Well check on Fox.com”. Let’s get this straight people, Hulu (free service) only streams what Fox.com LETS it stream. And Fox.com isn’t going to let Hulu broadcast more than is currently available on it’s site for free. So if it isn’t on Hulu (free service) it isn’t on the networks site either. (That doesn’t mean you can’t find it elsewhere on the interwebz, you’ll just be streaming/downloading from a not-so-legal source my friends).

Hulu has introduced a new way of streaming shows HuluPlus– and I have to say – it is tempting me to switch away from Netflix streaming.

For $7.99 you get the ENTIRE season of the current show – including the current episodes. You also get the back seasons for most shows (which I’d get from Netflix). And their repertoire of shows available is pretty dang awesome.

Also, the number of devices you can stream on with HuluPlus is pretty extensive, especially if you’re an Apple user. From the looks of things I should be able to get HuluPlus on my LG BluRay pretty shortly. BF currently can get it on his PS3. I can’t wait for the Android app – one thing that I have wished that Netflix had was an ability to stream on my HTC Evo – seems like HuluPlus might be able to do it soon.

Of course there are drawbacks to HuluPlus. For one, you still have to watch commercials. One of the things that I love about Netflix is that we don’t watch commercials. With HuluPlus those advertisers are still going to getcha! Another is that it appears that seasons of TV shows that are post-airing, but just released on DVD aren’t available for HuluPlus. For instance, there are only 5 seasons of Lost available. The last season (season 6) isn’t available. However Season 6 of Lost has been available on Netflix streaming for at least a month.

But on the flip side, Netflix streaming only does a handlful of shows. It could be that your favorite network show isn’t streamed on Netflix – but most likely (if it is network) it is available on HuluPlus.

But a bonus for Netflix is that it DOES stream some premium shows. For instance Dexter seasons 1&2 are available on Netflix but only one episode can be found on Hulu’s site.

Streaming Movies

What about movies?

Of course Netflix and Hulu both stream movies. And for anyone who has ever used either service knows, you get maybe 3-4 decent options with a ton of really baaaaad movies. In my opinion Netflix has a far better movie streaming service than Hulu does (that isn’t saying much).

There are other movie streaming services though! For instance, Vudu is an HD movie streaming service that has many free HD movie streaming options – or you can pay $2 to “rent” a movie for two nights – also they have a 99cent movie that changes daily  (today’s is Million Dollar Baby). They have a great selection of movies making it even more convenient than Redbox in a lot of ways. I’ve never used Vudu’s service, but it seems like a great way to “fill in” the gaps of movies that are missing from Netflix or Hulu is a cost effective, streaming way. Vudu also has a multiple platform presence. I can access it from my LG Bluray player, my PC, or BF’s PS3. Now… if only they would get on Android!

The Future

It seems to me that with a combination of streaming sports available, movies through Netflix and Vudu, TV shows through HuluPlus and Netflix – well, you can very much get away without ever having a cable box again. And you can even get your premium channels as well. HBO Go is now offering streaming through iPad and personal computers with a subscription to the cable premium station (includes HBO original shows, documentaries, sports, comedians, ect). It is only a matter of time before HBO Go will become a stand-alone purchase to gain new “streaming only” customers.

Where do you fall on the cable vs streaming see saw? We’re in the thick of change and I have a feeling that most personal finance bloggers may have already switched over to Netflix or Hulu to get a lot of their TV watching. Will you be sad to see cable go? Do you think it will go away? What are your thoughts on the future of television as we know it?

**Note, I did not receive money or any other form of compensation from any of the companies mentioned in this blog post. The commentary is purely my own.

The Perfect Day – Revisited

Back a year or so ago a lot of personal finance bloggers started writing about their perfect days. The ideal description of what our life would be like on a “perfect day” 5-ish years into the future.

When I wrote this description I was at my old job. I didn’t have a BF at the time and I was pretty depressed. Imagining that perfect life seemed like an impossible dream to me then.

Over a year later that “perfect day” is starting to seem like a reality.

I thought I’d go back and take a look at some of the things that I dreamed of in my perfect day and comment on how my life stands in comparison to that imagined perfect day.

I wake up around 7am. I’m a little groggy from being up all night with some indigestion from the pregnancy, but otherwise I’m pretty happy. I have a meeting at 8:30, so I get get first shower before my husband does. I’m not sure what he does, but he loves his job.

Well, I do wake up at 7am when I’m working. I’m obviously not pregnant, nor am I married. But I do have a boyfriend who doesn’t hate his job. I suppose that counts for something right?

I wake up at home. In our beautiful bedroom in our 1-bedroom apartment. We’ve been saving up for a few years to get our own home. The bedroom is dark and cosy with chocolate wood and warm pictures on the wall, but the rest of the apartment light and airy.

Well, I’m still in debt, so I haven’t started saving for a house. But if BF and I do ever decide to move in with each other our first priority will be saving up for a house for the two of us together (after getting out of debt, of course!). As for the chocolate wood and warm pictures in the bedroom – check! And the light and airy rest of the apartment – check again!

I’m an Assistant Professor at a nearby University. I have my own lab with a post-doc and 4 graduate students. I have group meeting at 8:30am. My graduate student is presenting an idea that I had recently come up with and shows some really exciting results that validate the method that I’ve created. I’m very exciting about this and immediately after the meeting go to my office to start writing both a grant on the results and start to formulate the paper which I hope will get into the Journal of American Chemical Society. It is a fantastic day of research.

Well, I’m an assistant professor currently, so I’ve done that part!  Right now I’m writing grants to try to get some money to pay for summer research students, so I don’t have enough “man power” to have results to publish on my own, though I do have two undergraduates that are working for me. However, I’ve managed to get out 3 publications so far this year on prior work and still have students who are doing research for me. So my career life is right on track from this part of my perfect day.

I drive my fuel efficient vehicle that I paid cash for.

I’m still driving my car from graduate school. I’m hoping this will last me at least another 5 years (it is a 2002) at which point my goal is to buy a new car with cash. As I’m not saddled with a car payment currently – I’m considering this a step in the right direction towards achieving this goal.

Every night we take an hour walk with the dog. He loves it and so do we.

BF and I currently take walks with Jack just about every night. He loves it and so do we. =)

We go out once a week to a cultural event – like a play or a musical or the opera or a movie. Typically for the matinee since it is slightly cheaper and less crowded. We have game night once a week. And during the evenings we take turns cooking dinner and then relax from the stresses of the day. Sometimes our dinner conversation gets so intense (in a good way) that we end up sitting at the dinner table until near bed time because we’re just enjoying the conversation so much. A few times a week I retreat to my craft room and do that for a few hours while he plays some video games (or whatever it is that he enjoys to do on his own). This particular evening we’re discussing where we’d like to go on our baby-moon vacation in two months. I’m thinking Brazil and he’s thinking Thailand. It is a very heated discussion and in the end we decide that it would probably be best to go a big city in case there are any complications with the pregnancy while we’re there.

Because of money BF and I only go to a cultural event about once or twice a month (usually a movie, but this month we went to a see live music). We do however have game “night” once a week. Every Sunday afternoon we play games from 3pm to around 10pm. There are also other impromptu game nights that occur during the week as well. I love playing games and I’m so glad that I’ve finally gotten a BF (and friends) who also enjoy playing them with me as well. BF and I are also trying to find some time to vacation. This year we’re going to go to San Diego in the summer since two of my four best friends are getting married this summer and both weddings are in San Diego.

I go to bed sleeping in his nook and loving it. I’m so happy that my research is going well. I enjoyed planning our vacation. I look forward to the events up the upcoming days. It was a pretty fantastic day all around.

I didn’t have to wait 5ish years for this. I go to sleep happy like this now. =)

I’m thankful for a job that fulfills and satisfies me. A husband who loves and understands me. The family that we’re creating together and the experience that we’ve shared and will be sharing together.

I am currently so thankful for a job that fulfills and satisfies me. I have a BF who loves and understands me. We’re not yet creating a family but we’ve talked about it for the future and we absolutely love the experiences that we’re sharing together right now.

…Now if only such a perfect day could become a reality!

As you can see this “perfect day” isn’t too far from my reach and in a lot of ways I’d say that I’ve already achieved many more perfect days with many more to come!

If you haven’t imagined your Perfect Day, I encourage you to sit down and fill out the questions that were posted originally by Frugal Dreamer. If you have imagined your perfect day – how close are you to it now that another year has passed?