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I still pay for things with spare change, though.

13 May

I really like the idea of being one of those people who monitors where every dime goes; one of those Good With Money people. Those people balance checkbooks and save receipts. Those people know stuff about interest rates and ING accounts. Those people own accordion folders.

I am very much NOT one of those people. I have handfuls of random receipts balled up in the bottom of purses and in coat pockets. I check my bank balance online before going out to see how much money is left. I lost the cover and register part of my checkbook eons ago, and now just keep one raggedy book of checks on my entry table to write my one check a month to my property management company, who apparently hasn’t heard of this thing called “online payments”.  And despite being a relatively responsible, smart person, budgeting and spending my money wisely has never been my strong suit. In fact, my spending habits are less Grown Up Person and more Crackhead Who Found a Wallet Lying on the Street.

For those who are visual learners, I give you this:

But after seeing a large portion of other people my age able to do things like go on nice vacations or, I don’t know, buy a house, I realized it was time for the big B: a budget (#18).

I find budgets depressing. Seeing how little money I actually make on paper and how quickly it disappears make me want to drink. And then add that into “expenses”.  And I always seem to forget something important like insurance or medical costs or food. But you know what else is depressing? Being broke all the time.

I’ve been using Mint.com to help me out, which makes things a bit easier. Rather than having to make a spreadsheet or keep a written log, all you have to do is enter in your bank information, set up your budget amounts, and it tracks all of your transitions for you, using nice, pretty graphics to tell you that you have no money. It will also send out emails when you’re over-budget, which can be a nice heads up but also a real nag (“Yes, I KNOW I’m over-budget for Alcohol and Bars for this month. THANKS MOM.”)

I’m hoping that all this fiscal responsibility will spill over into other aspects, so I can start saving money (#19) and finally pay off that one credit card that has been dragging me down forever (#16). It’s all very grown up and very…boring. It’s boring. People never tell stories about that one time in college when they took all their money and invested it in a Roth IRA with no contribution limits. The good stories are the ones where someone lost it all in a backroom poker game or drained their accounts and went backpacking through South America.  But, much like oil changes and prostate exams, it’s just something that most people just have to do at some point in their life.

But it will be worth it. Right?

Doesn’t work to her potential.

9 May

Let me paint a word picture for you:

It’s mid-March and my 29th birthday is quickly approaching. Outside of being able to get drunk off of free drinks that I didn’t need to wear a low-cut shirt to get, my birthday wasn’t that big of deal for me. In fact, I had to take a moment to calculate how old I was going to be. And then, I took another moment to recalculate it, either because I’m a lady and therefore have trouble with things like math, parking, and not being irrational, or because I couldn’t quite believe that I was turning 29 already.

I don’t have a thing about getting older; I welcome the day when it will be generally accepted for me to wear elastic-waist pants, open-toe sandals with nylons, and loudly criticize those around me and have it all written off due to my impending dementia. But there was something about almost being 30 and where I am in life that caught in my brain. I’ve accomplished probably an average amount of things during my life: went to college, worked a variety of jobs, lived in a foreign country. But I’ve also spent a large portion of that time napping, pretending to be busy, and watching youtube videos of cats riding vacuums. A lot of time.

This because I am very, very lazy. How lazy? Let me give you some examples:

  • I haven’t bought coffee filters in…..ever. Originally this was because I used a french press and didn’t need them, but then I upgraded to an actual machine that would make coffee without me getting out of bed or having to press anything. And even though I live  less than one block from a Korean market where I could buy coffee filters (also, if I felt the need: cigarettes, energy drinks, random tubs of cake frosting that passed their sell-by date by a few years, and ziploc baggies full of 10-15 Ritz crackers), I haven’t bothered. Why? Because there are paper towels.
  • The clothes that were left on my living room floor last week are still there. I plan on wearing them to work tomorrow. I hope there isn’t too much cat fur on them.
  • All my dishes are stacked beside my couch, in reverse chronological order of when I used them. Rather than wash them, I ate cereal out of tupperware. And then put it on top of the stack.

Anyway, back to March: I’ve almost turned 29, thinking I could really do more with my life and decide to make a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30. I like lists. I like crossing things off of lists. They keep me in line. I decide this is a really good idea.

I then completely forget about it for about six weeks.

And then today, on a gorgeously sunny Sunday, I did absolutely nothing productive. Wait, that’s not true – a patched up a hole in a second-hand purse I bought because all this weird orange powder kept falling out of it. I assume that the original owner of the purse was a drug mule and cocaine oxidizes over time.  But still, not a super productive day. And so, to counteract my laziness and my guilt for not tackling Mt. Cereal Bowl, I created my Shit To Do Before 30 list:

  1. Start a blog. (BOOYAH.)
  2. Read Infinite Jest. All 473829384 pages of it. And the footnotes.
  3. Knit a sweater that I will actually wear out in public (and not just at an Ugly Sweater party)
  4. Watch every Hitchcock movie.
  5. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  6. Grow a plant from a seed. And then try not to kill it.
  7. Watch the sunrise.
  8. Host a dinner party for all my lady friends. (Which, considering the myriad of dietary restrictions that exist between them, might just consist of a bowl of baby carrots and a bottle of vodka. But, baby carrots and vodka served on fancy dishes.)
  9. Print out, frame, and hang up all my favorite online photos before Mark Zuckerberg steals them, frames them, and tries to pretend like they’re his friends.
  10. Complete the Couch to 5K running program. Or, finally just break off my bad ankle. Whichever comes first.
  11. Go to a music festival.
  12. Get a short story published.
  13. Go fishing with dad. Try not to slip and fall into the river. AGAIN.
  14. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  15. Learn to drive a stick shift.
  16. Pay off debt (excluding student debt, which will be haunting my ass for the next 20 years or until I die, whichever comes first.)
  17. Achieve my ideal weight. Hopefully, with some hard work and diligence, my dream of being 800 lbs. will be realized.
  18. Create a budget and stick to it, i.e. – More money into savings account, less on nail polish.
  19. Have an emergency fund. I’m pretty sure my feminine charms won’t help pay for any sort of medical expenses should something happen.
  20. Pet a cow.
  21. Make my own beer. Then get drunk off of my own beer.
  22. Make 100 paper cranes. Then: figure out something to do with 100 paper cranes -OR- recycle 100 paper cranes.
  23. Learn the how to find constellations.
  24. Have a girls’ weekend with Mom.
  25. Find a career that I enjoy.

There are five spaces left because a) I couldn’t think of anything else off the top of my head, and b) I may find something else I want to do later on. If not, then clearly all I need to do are those 25 things and my entire life will be complete. Because, let’s face it, after petting cow, there’s nowhere to go but down.