Category Archives: Budgeting

August is Upon Us

It’s a new month, which means, not only is everyone’s mortgage/rent due, it ALSO means…

Law school starts again this month.

(( cue menacing sound track ))

In some ways, it’s hard to believe the summer has gone by so quickly. In other ways, it’s also hard to believe that we’re already to the 2L year. It’s exciting to think about starting a new year and about Ducks having a new schedule. It’s a little nervewracking to think about the difference in the 1L year and the 2L year, although it’s certainly not as scary as the whole getting-ready-for-law-school-and-what-to-expect feeling of the first year!

Around this time last year, Ducks was leaving his job because I wanted him to take some time off and rest before school. Of course, workaholic that he is, he didn’t want to, but I convinced him, and I think he was glad he did. Around this time, we were forking out a substantial portion of a tuition payment and taking student loans for the rest. Around this time, he was buying hundreds of dollars worth of books, and I was worrying and stressing about how we’d pay for books, how we’d pay for classes and how we’d pay to keep a roof over our heads.

This year, it’s a little easier. I got a raise in January, which helped a lot, plus he’ll have an internship throughout the year this upcoming year, which will help us with little “extras,” which means football and basketball season tickets, and gas to travel to the games. We know what to expect in the way of expenses, and we know how to adapt to a different schedule. We’ve got the saving money on lunches routine down, and we’re getting used to spending less.

However, I’m sure this new year will come with its own challenges. Classes will probably be harder and more competitive. Working will take away from study time, which will then take away from time we can spend together. Costs will continue to go up ridiculously, which will then eat away at the extra money we’re making.

So, life’s not a bed of roses, but it’s nice to know that we’ve made it through one year, and we can definitely persevere through the two to come.

How are you planning for the new year upon us (if you’re in school)? Would love to hear advice from all those who have been there and done that, also. 😉  What else are you looking forward to this month?

Warning: Whining and Complaining Ahead

Sigh.

We were really hoping to go on a vacation this year. We wanted to go to Boston because I’ve never been there, but I don’t think it’s going to work out.

Sigh.

With Ducks doing the internship this summer rather than going back to his previous job, we’re not going to have the discretionary funds available for a big trip, and airfare to Boston is just too expensive (it’s sucky living in a city that pretty much only does connecting flights, thus tremendously increasingly travel costs). Of course, we’re really thankful for the internship and we know it will pay off in the long run, but it’s not as much money as he would have otherwise been making this summer.

I’m trying not to get depressed because I really wanted to take a vacation this year, but it’s hard! We’ve also got several weddings coming up, which will mean mini-trips and bridesmaid/groomsman expenses and gifts, etc., etc. And, we did buy the new bed, which was actually none of the pictures that I showed you. Of course, when we went shopping again, we decided we loved a competely different one (will post more on this later).

So, long story short … law school means delaying fun. This is one reason why I really want to wait to have kids until at least two or three years after law school (when I’ll be in my 30s….wow), because I want to have some time to have fun and be able to do things. I hate the feeling of just delaying and delaying. Before law school, we did have the most wonderful honeymoon, and then we went to Chicago last summer, but there are so many other trips I want to take.

Sigh.

I guess I’ll just leave the vacation fund alone and let it continue to slowly accrue money. At least, maybe, when we finally get to the end of law school, we can go on an awesome celebratory trip.

Sorry for sounding so whiny and spoiled! I feel like a brat complaining about not being able to go on vacation when there are so many other more important issues going on in the world.

But still, any ideas on what we could do to spend a couple of days having fun economically?

Reasonably Priced?

What is overpriced?

I say this because last night, we went out to dinner (which is a rarity for us) with some old friends from Ducks’ work — actually, the friend and his fiancee.

I just kind of wonder what overpriced is – and if the definition will change as we get older/out of law school. Some people I know who are around the same age as we are go out all. the. time and they get the full meal from appetizer to dessert, along with accompanying drinks and such.

That is so not us.

Last night, I thought the meal was fairly priced. Each of our entrees were in the $15-20 range, then the other couple bought the first bottle of wine and we bought the second. (We also got a free dessert because the waitress got part of the order wrong) That’s definitely more than we would usually spend, especially since law school started, but I didn’t think it was an out-of-control spending amount, since it’s probably the first time we’ve been out to dinner in 2011 (okay, we did go out to celebrate my promotion….I forgot about that). However, my husband thought that it was too much, and this morning, his statement was, “If I’m going to spend that much money, it should be on something I liked more than what I had last night” (he had trout).

So, the question is, what’s reasonable? I think, as a girl who grew up in a town where Dairy Queen was pretty much the only restaurant and the steak finger basket was $2.99, I probably will never get used to spending a ton of money on food when there are so many other things in the world that money could be better used for. However, when we are done with law school and **  knock on wood ** have more money, will I think $16 is nothing to pay for a meal and just order a $16 martini with a haughty, snooty-woman laugh?

Doubt it, but who knows?

Thinking about it after the fact, I do agree that we paid too much money for dinner last night, but you know why I think that? Relativity. When I’m at the grocery store trying to calculate buying a week’s worth of food for $40, it doesn’t make sense to spend that much on one meal, right?

Maybe it also depends on your hobbies. Our big hobby is going to sporting events, it seems. So discretionary money goes to that. I don’t get pedicures anymore. I don’t go shopping a lot. Maybe if you’re a true epicurean, then eating out and sampling delicious meals (which last night’s was…for me, at least) is your hobby and that’s where you spend your discretionary income.

Even if the bonus of catching up with some long-lost friends is included, it would have been a lot cheaper to make a similar meal at home and buy a couple of bottles of wine at Spec’s to go with it. Or, is the atmosphere and the not-cooking thing worth it?

Thoughts?

(Oh, as a final note, I feel the need to express how much I LOVE the couple we hung out with last night. We had a wonderful time – I LOVE the fiancee. She and I have really truly clicked, which is amazing. The first time that we met, we sat down on the couch at their house and literally talked non-stop, almost without taking a breath for three hours. THREE HOURS. So, the hanging out time was definitely worthwhile.)

Good News!

No, finals are not over. Although, for Ducks, they’re technically 60 percent over.

The good – no, make that GREAT news – is that Ducks got a job during Christmas break.

I wanted him to just take a break and relax, but he said he would go too stir-crazy sitting at home every day for a month. So, instead, he got a job working with his former employer. It’s super exciting because — to be completely honest — he’s going to make a lot of money. Our goal for this year has been to pay one-third of his tuition and all of his books out-of-pocket instead of getting loans for it (all the remainder, of course, is loans…sigh). And, with the time he’ll be working this month, we should be able to cover our portion of the spring’s tuition payment.

Hallelujah!

Now, I’ll have to be really sweet to him all month because he’ll be the breadwinner again. Sigh – I guess we can’t have everything. 😉

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Should I Spend It?

Okay, friends, I have a couple of questions about things I want to buy, so I’m going to let you guys be Suze Orman and “approve or deny” me.

First, a second Christmas tree. We already have one artificial tree that we bought when we first got married. It was very, very inexpensive (I think $40?) and it’s kind of sparse-looking. So, anyway, we’ve had it for two Christmases and I don’t want to get rid of it, because it was our first tree, but I kind of want another tree for downstairs and to put the old tree upstairs and decorate it with our college colors and college ornaments.

Would this be extravagant? What do you think?

Second, the much-talked-of (by me) laptop. I still really want a computer and I feel that it could almost be termed as a need because it would help me with my writing (okay, seriously, I know two computers are really more of a luxury than a need, especially when I already have an iPhone).

The reason I’m debating all this is because I got my yearly bonus this week. It was a lot more than I expected, or than I had ever gotten before. So, now of course, instead of putting it all in savings, I want to spend some of it. The question is: should I? Or should I just wait and show a little self-control? As an aside, I actually did take 2/3 of the bonus and put it into savings (probably to be used toward law school tuition), and the other 1/3 would more than cover both these purchases.

So, let me know what you think. My Facebook friends seem to be fully in approval of the second tree, but I haven’t asked them about the computer.