Archive for June, 2008


PF in the Singular Form: Bulk Food

This is an article in an occasional series focusing on the unique challenges of personal finance for single people. Yes, I’ve decided it’s going to be a series. Rejoicing may now commence.

If you’re single, buying food in bulk quantities is usually not a good idea.

I’m not talking scooping half a pound of sugar out of the bin at your local cooperative/hippie grocery store. That, actually, is brilliant and if you’re not doing it now, you really should. No, I’m talking about buying 10 pounds of dried potato flakes at Costco.

Face it: unless you eat dried potato flakes at every meal, you are increasing the chance of spoilage and bug infestation by having the big ol’ box sitting on your shelf for months and months. At which point, you would throw out the box of potato flakes, which is also tossing the money you spent on the unused portion.

Having smaller amounts of food on-hand also means increased food rotation in and out of your cupboards. Doesn’t that sound virtuous and frugal? Let me translate: increased food rotation decreases the chance of you standing in front of a cupboard filled with twenty pounds of, let’s say, pinto beans, and deciding that you can’t abide one. more. meal. of. pinto. beans… so you head for your favorite restaurant.

Am I speaking from personal experience? You betcha.

As a rule of thumb, I use the 1-5 Rule. If it is something I eat at least once a week, I will buy one quantity (pound or can or bag) at a time. If I eat it three or more times a week, I will buy five quantity (pound or can or bag) at a time.


Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness…

..but it sure as shooting can sometimes buy peace of mind.

Ever since last night and Morty’s demise, I have been all sorts of anxious. Yes, hi, I’m Mary Sue, and I’m addicted to my computer.

I worried and fretted and did the math several times over. And this morning, doing the math YET A-FREAKING-GAIN, I realised:

1) I have enough money. This is why God designed the Emergency Fund.
2) This was interfering with my ability to concentrate on my work.

I got on the phone with a local place that does certified Mac refurbs, and I’m picking up my new baby tonight, a 12″ G4 iBook. And a wire to transfer eleven years of writing from Morty to the New Baby.

*A note on naming conventions:

I name stuff. It’s a thing. Computers are always, ALWAYS male. Because computers are a pain in my butt. Morty was actually named after a character in the film “Undercover Blues” starring Kathleen Turner and Dennis Quaid.


Morty is Dead

Morty is my G3 iBook. About a year ago he fell off the bed and his hinge cracked. Since then, he’s been held together with duct tape, and periodically his monitor would either not turn on or would have fun, random colors. Gentle prodding and prodigious cursing would usually kick his monitor back into life.

I am not computer-free, of course. I’m writing this on Moco right now, my 2G Asus EEE. Which, over the last few months I’ve owned him, has shown me that he’s a great little lappy for travel and writing in cafes, but he is not condusive to long-term use, such as writing for six hours straight, or playing Kingdom of Loathing.

I have money. YAY I HAVE MONEY! All hail the glorious budget and savings! But I also have tons and tons of choices. Choices bad, because I have a terminal case of indecision.

1) Buy a brand new iBook. Price with Big Ol’ Hospital discount: $999
2) Buy a used iBook. Price: about $700.
3) Buy a used Mac mini and hook it up to my televison and/or a used monitor: At least $450, plus $50 for the used monitor.
4) Buy a cable to hook Morty up to the TV: $40, and have to buy a new computer within a year since G3 iBooks are going the way of the Yangtze Dolphin.


Budgeting for Dungeons

I play a completely free, text-based online RPG called The Kingdom of Loathing. If the previous sentence is gobbeltygook, just ignore it. Seriously, it’ll hurt your head if I try to explain it.

KoL, being free, does have to drum up donations to keep the servers running. They manage this by offering an in-game item, called a Mr. Accessory. You give them $10, you get a Mr. A, which you can then trade for an Item of the Month, something offered for one month only that will help your game play. There’s also an in-game mall, where you can sell items, including Mr. As. The price for a Mr. A is pretty stable at 4.5 million meat.

Yes, the game’s financial system is not called coins or gold, but meat. It’s funny if you get the joke, and if I try to explain why it’s funny, again with the head hurting.

Back to the important bit: this game has an economy that can be described in real-world dollars. I, myself, if I sold everything I’d collected over a year’s worth of serious but casual playing (about two hours a day, five days a week), would have about 12 million meat, or about $22USD. It is easy for someone who cares to meat-farm, or collect as much meat as possible by fighting the same monsters over and over, to make 125,000 meat a day.

Within the game, you can join a clan, which up until last week gave you certain small advantages (an easy system to trade items, extra turns per day, more meat, and camraderie). Last week the game runners implemented new content specifically for folks who have played a lot and aren’t interested in just repeating the same quests over and over. It costs 10 million meat for a clan to install a basement dungeon, and one million meat to start a dungeon dive.

O, the hue and cry! O, the woe! Woe, damnit, WOE!

People are demanding the price on dungeons be dropped. People are decrying the neccessity to move from smaller clans to larger ones that can afford the fee. People are demanding the price of dungeons is unfair, and that the individuals who put in many, many hours of their own, free time to create the game are attempting to line their pockets. People are demanding that the untapped oil reserves in Alaska be drilled to lower the prices…

…wait, I think I got off topic.

The problem, as I see it, is that the people complaining are not thinking like personal finance bloggers. When one of us wants something, we find a way to do it, or do without.

Translated to real-world dollars, 11 million meat is about $22, with reoccuring expense of $2 every time you wanted to start a run. Three Mr. As would cover it.

But I am a PF blogger. I give up my money only after a fight. So, let’s say I don’t want to go clan-hopping. Let’s say my clan is me, my brother Larry, and my other brother Larry. We’re all over level 25, so the dungeon won’t kill us instantly dead. Since we’re also over level 25, we have some nice items in our possession that can up our meat count. Between the three of us, if we straight up meatfarm, imagining a lowball take of 100k meat a day, it would take four days to scrape up enough meat to install a basement. If we decide to finally clean out our display cases and inventories of stuff, even just autoselling all those amulets of extreme plot significance that seem to collect up real fast, we could get there faster.

Sounds familiar to the PF folks, right? That’s because it all boils down to maximizing your income sources: switching clans to one that has a higher ‘income’, taking on second jobs meat-farming, or sell excess stuff.

As for me and my characters, well, I enjoy speed-ascending (for my own quantities of ‘speed’). So my main character, LoverPrimeNumbah, is going to stay in the clan I created (which consists of LPN and my friend’s characters, which I am babysitting while he spends a couple months in Europe and Africa). My multi, though, has hopped clans and can be frequently found after rollover diving into the dungeon with the rest of the KoLAddicts.

Die, Hobos, Die!
(It’s German for “the hobos, the.”)


PF in the Singular Form: One Income

I got all excited when I saw some folks talking about a community that discusses living on one income. So I go and click, and am immediately let down.

It’s for families.

But really, the discussion is misleading. Even if you work fourteen jobs, even if your family unit consists of thirteen breadwinners and a cat, when you do a budget, you add it all up and there’s one little income there.

*sigh* I would like to see more for those of us who are single for the long run, though. Guess I’ll just have to get off my arse and write it, huh?


What’s In Your Bank Account?

I read the article at Queercents Do You Balance Your Checkbook? and immediately shot off a twentysomething snark-comment, to wit “…what’s a checkbook?” I then went on to extol the virtues of online banking, and how I check my INGDirect accounts every day, because, as the Fangirl Financial Plan clearly states, Compound Interest is Sexy OMG.

I’m a snarky twentysomething. It’s a thing.

Then, as my brain is wont to do, as soon as I hit ‘post’ on that snarky, self-righteous twentysomething comment, I remembered what happened earlier this week.

I do have a bank account with a brick and mortar place. I keep very little money in there. Matter of fact, I hadn’t checked on that account for three months. So, I got a whim and opened it up.

And noticed a 4.95 charge for the last three months. It was from my old Internet service, which I canceled once I realised I was spending $15 a month for an email address when GMail would give me one for free.

I was incensed. I got on the phone to the ISP and YELLED A LOT. At two different people. They will refund my $14.85.

I’ve been following the Fangirl Financial Plan for six months now. With my biggest short-term goal of eliminating credit card debt completed, and my next goals literally 10-15 years out from completion, I’ve gotten a little sloppy. This incident brings it into sharp focus.

Time to take the next step in my journey.

Um, after you pay off your credit cards but before you pay off crippling student loan debt… what is the next step?

Crap. This is HARD.


Crisis Averted.

My ‘stimulus check’ is locked safely away from my grubby little fingers in a 6-month CD. No new computer, no gone-crazy-at-the-MAC-counter stories. I did buy two DVDs at the used DVD shop, but that cost $13 AND it turns out one of the DVDs won’t play on DVD players sold in the US. *pouts*

The Experiment

What happens when I put as much time and energy into keeping track of my finances as I do in keeping track of my fandoms? Let's find out!

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