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Vacation Planning for Folks With Fluctuating Incomes

In 20 short days I will be hopping a plane and going up a mountain in California, only coming down to go to a Giants game. There will be meat cooked in pits and beer in kegs and more relatives than I could ever hope to remember their names.

I understand some people have this thing called ‘vacation pay’, where their jobs actually pay them to go away. Me? Not so much. That week in July I will be earning no money at all.

Oh, sure, I could not take a vacation and just work my booty off and earn! earn! EARN! My goals in life do not include a heart attack by age 30. No, my goals include maintaining family ties as well as can be done when I’m making my home 700 miles from Home.

So, off I go to the 90-somethingth Fourth of July barbeque and ‘campout’*.

I will still have expenses, though. Not just for gas, eating out, and some of the beer (I am NOT drinking Budweiser, no matter how much crap I have to take from my uncles). When I’m on vacation, my landlord doesn’t stop charging me rent or utilities, and neither does my cell phone provider, my car insurance, et cetera. Now, in the past I didn’t pay attention to that, and just ate a lot of beans and rice and put stuff on Ye Olde Credit Card.

Ye Olde Credit Card is in Ye Olde Tiny Pieces at the bottom of Ye Olde Landfill, so that’s not an option.

The Planning I Did Done for My Vacation:

  1. Figured out I wanted to go at a specific time. This was easier for me since, you know, the Fourth of July is a static date in my world.
  2. Calculated the number of pay periods out the vacation was from current date.  Since my budget isn’t monthly but is based on pay periods, this is important.
  3. Calculated how much it costs me per week to live.
  4. Divided how much it costs me per week to live by how many pay periods left.
  5. Put that amount away in savings every pay period.

Methodical. Simplistic. Boring. The older I get, the more I absolutely LOVE it when my finances are boring.

In other news, Uncle Sam finally gave me back my $600. I had all these plans, ranging from virtuous (bills! Invest! STUDENT LOANS!) to silly (LIPSTICK! In BRIGHT ORANGE!). I’ve got a CD maturing tomorrow, too. I’mna going to sit on it for a while. It’s earning interest in my savings anyway.


*My folks built a house on the ancestral property about 8 years ago, so instead of sleeping in the back of a pickup truck, I now get to sleep in a v. comfy pillowtop bed, wake up, shower, and then go down to the campfire, kick my cousins and godsibs out of their cots onto the dirty ground, and have breakfast. This is so awesome I just can’t tell you.


Rising Costs of Food Hits Home

They hiked the price of pop in our break room from 1.25/20oz to 1.50/20oz.

This usually wouldn’t impact me, except I have had the strangest mid-afternoon craving for sweet drinks over the last few weeks. Water, coffee, and tea just weren’t cutting it. At the grocery store last night, I figured I would pick up a six pack of something with no High Fructose Corn Syrup, because that makes me run around real fast in circles and then fall down go boom.

Instead, I got a 16oz bottle of very expensive organic lemon juice. I have a spare water bottle at work, and I rinsed it out, dropped in 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and a couple ounces of hot water from our fountain at work, and swirled until it dissolved. Then I added 3 ounces of the expensive lemon juice and filled it up the rest of the way with water.

It’s chilling in the fridge for this afternoon.

Cost per fl.oz:
Coke from machine: 7.4 cents
My fancy organic homebrew lemonade: 4.1 cents

What was that about organics costing more than regular food?


Decisions, Decisions

I’ve been building my emergency fund slowly, by opening a new 6 month INGDirect CD every pay period. You can open a CD through ING with any dollar value, and you can have as many as you want. It’s useful for me because I can see right there on each account’s page how much that money will be if I let it sit, and how much I will lose if I pull it out early to, oh, you know, go to KoLCon or something (no, I’m not going to Con, because compound interest is sexy OMG).

I’ve been doing this since November, so they’ve started maturing. When each one matures, I’ve been debating what to do with them. I have them all set to close and dump into my savings account when they mature, because the first ones matured when the rate for CDs was like, 2.55%. Ew, no. The rates went up a little last pay period so I opened a 9 month to fill in a gap I had from before, you know, I got srs bout dis bizness.

When I logged on to check my accounts today, there was a little orange link next to the one maturing July 1. Not the one maturing June 14th, though. 😛

The little orange link informed me if I roll over the July 1 CD, it is eligible for a ten point bonus in the interest rate. ING had a rate change today, and now the rates run from 3.3% to 4%.

Except the only one for 4% is the 60-month.

So, with my bonus, I’d get 4.10% on a 60-month or 3.4% on a 6- or 9-month. If I go for the 60-month, it’s got a 12-month interest penalty if it’s pulled out in the next five years.

I’m currently getting 4.7% on that CD, by the way. Ah, the good old days, when interest rates were high and before anyone who wasn’t working at Hell’s Cargo Home Mortgage in 2003 realised that 5-year Adjustable Rate Mortgages are stupid stupid stupid… MAN, I HATED THAT JOB!

*ahem* Where was I? Oh, yes! Monies! Monies are good and shiny and we likes them, precious… Fiddling around with a spreadsheet, it’s all just a guessing game.

For the record, along with pickles, spoiled fish sauce, and Sex and the City, I really hate guessing games.


How NOT to Gain Publicity For Your Product.

I know several of my whole four readers are entreprenuers. Even if you’re not, if you’re not reading Book of every day, you’re missing out on one of the best blogs out there.

He routinely posts information about useful, interesting and intruiging products. Including photos, descriptions, and links directly to where you can purchase said product. I also find his Behind the MedSpeak columns useful in my day-to-day job at Big Ol’ Hospital, where a 16Fr Cannula is just something I need to have delivered to Sterile Processing by 8am or else Surgeons Yell At Me*.

Every so often he gets a C&D from a vendor. Which he then posts on his blog. Because he can.

I think, however, that the cease and desist from John Laurence of Safety Smart Gear regarding Spokelit is the absolute height of passive-aggressive whinerbaby**.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

The funny thing is, I was going to buy this product. For lo, I have a bicycle, and I ride at night, and I am worried about visibility, even though I’m a 275lb woman on a six foot long bright orange beach cruiser bicycle. Car drivers (and elitist cyclists) seem to think I’m invisible.

Now? Not so much. I think I can find a competitor’s product to throw my shiny gold rocks at.

And that, my dears, is a picture of how consumers work in this day or age. They are more likely to make decisions based on the evaluations and suggestions of someone they ‘trust’. Economists have a different definition of ‘trust’ than normal humans, as in I wouldn’t trust Joe with my car (sorry, Joe, it’s an insurance thing) but if he says a product is good, I’m going to remember that and use it in my decision making when I am making a purchase.

From a sociologist’s point of view, it’s just networking taken to its logical conclusion.

*Surgeons are scary when they yell.
**Yes, I watched Sky High again last night. Bruce Campbell is


It’s my blog…

…and I’ll post what I want to.


Especially when it’s something that turns the Internet’s awesome up to 11, such as, oh, you know, Dinosaur-Throwing Contests.


When did I become a lipstick whore?

I have three different lipsticks and a lip gloss in my bag right now, at least two more lipsticks at home, and I’m contemplating purchasing another one!

Seriously, until about, oh, a MONTH ago, I didn’t wear makeup except once-twice a year!

And these aren’t cheap, neither, I’m shelling out between 5-15 a pop on these bad boys.


How did this happen?



I need to think about budgeting in fried catfish. Because once a month I get a craving, and itwinds up costing me about $30 when I’m all done.

Good thing budgets are flexible little critters.

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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