On Let’s Throw Some Money at Our Problems: September 2014 Check-in

Okay, joining this again because many things in life have changed, namely I have a husband now vs. a fiance, and the husband is no longer a student but instead a working man, and we moved two weeks ago to a place where our rent is SIGNIFICANTLY lower. So we are now a two-income household with low rent, but a lot of debt from school and wedding and having to buy a second car because our new home is very far away from downtown and transportation and our workplaces are nowhere near each other. The car loan can't be helped, but we're going to use the opportunity of cheap rent to aggressively pay down our CC bills and start saving. Husband has his own debts with which he is dealing, both student and credit card, so I'm just going to track mine here: Visa Amazon Rewards Card August Debt: $4,002. This is a big combination of necessary wedding costs (ring, Ketubah, other things I didn't want my parents to pay for), filling in the gaps from my husband not working, and miscellaneous other expenses, some necessary, some not. The goal is to put no less than $500 a month here until it is gone. 2014 Ford Focus: We have $19,103.44 on a brand new car we bought in early August. APR is 5.7%, with monthly payments of around $300. Just going to pay this one slow and steady. Going to focus on paying the Visa down and then will be using surplus money to help husband with student loans and school-incurred credit card debt. And once we pay our credit cards off we hope to start saving for a house. Life is expensive.

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 9:32 pm 0

On How People Do Money: The High Holidays

Oh Ester, this is so timely for me. This morning while at shul, I picked up a membership packet at the synagogue I go to in my area. This synagogue, which is primarily a Conservative congregation that has an Orthodox Kehillah as well, thankfully does not ticket non-members on the High Holidays (a perk of living in the South, where there are not many Jews, and where a lot of the Jews go to Reform synagogues). But, I've been to this synagogue enough times that I was thinking I might want to get a membership. But when I saw the membership costs -- yikes!!! If you are in an adult household and one of you is under 30 (which will be me until March), it is $730 a year. But if you are over 30, eesh...nearly $2,000 for a household of two (which we are, although my husband is not Jewish so maybe I should only sign up for a household of one). Oi vey. I will give the synagogue props though for having a very cheap ($100 for the year) student rate, which makes sense because it is two blocks from a major university. Additionally, there was a note in the membership packet that if you can't pay the full fee, the synagogue is willing to work with you. As someone who works for an arts non-profit, I appreciate that. So, is it worth it? I am looking to build a stronger Jewish life for myself now that I have been in this area awhile, but I usually spend at least one of the High Holidays (both if my work schedule permits) with my family because my dad, who is a lawyer in his real life, is also a registered cantorial soloist with the Conservative movement and so travels around the country during the High Holidays to sing at synagogues that don't have a full-time cantor. For nearly a decade he's been at a lovely congregation in Pittsburgh which is quite pleasant to visit and, as the cantor's family, we don't have to get tickets (because, duh, but we're getting flights and hotel rooms, so, wash, I guess). I primarily attend the synagogue in my area for major holidays and the occasional Shabbat. When I'm feeling really Jew-y I'll actually participate, I've read Torah, and I read from the Megillah for them a few Purims ago, that is one *crunk* congregation on Purim. But--I don't have kids right now, so I don't care about the Hebrew School perks, and since the husband is not Jewish I'm really only at the synagogue a handful of times a year. So what do I do?!?! Continue to freebie it up while I can/am still childless/continue to attend a synagogue that awesomely doesn't charge for tickets on the High Holidays, or submit to my Jewish guilt and pay some membership fees. Or maybe just send a small donation to the synagogue around the High Holidays to thank them for not actually charging me anything to attend? Life is hard and being an adult is hard. Shanah Tova by the way.

Posted on September 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm 1

On Coffee vs Diet Coke vs a Pure, Uncaffeinated Life

Posted on September 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm 0

On Coffee vs Diet Coke vs a Pure, Uncaffeinated Life

My feelings toward coffee are totally the same as Ester's, and I've consumed Diet Coke my whole life (minus staggered periods of cold-turkey quitting), though as of late I actually prefer Coke Zero. Coke Zero 4eva. But I do try to limit it to one soda a day (typically a lunch) and don't need it every day at this point. Maybe my mornings would be more "up" if I had caffeine like coffee or tea but who knows.

Posted on September 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm 0

On Fall Fashion

@beet hummus I ONLY OWN ONE PAIR OF PANTS (it is a pair of jeans, I never wear them). DOWN WITH PANTS. EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT WAS SAID ABOVE.

Posted on September 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm 2

On Say Yes to the Dress, Pt 3: The Conclusion

Yay and mazel tov to the bride!

Posted on September 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm 0

On Mass Transit is Amazing For Everyone (Else)

I just moved to a lovely house about 22 miles from where I work because the rent is cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap. But it has doubled my commute (30 minutes vs. the original 15, not the end of the world). My new house in out in the country. There is no public transit out there. So I drive to work every day. No other option. It is what it is.

Posted on September 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm 0

On Visiting Hogwarts When You're Broke

@PicNic The Hogsmeade area of Universal Islands of Adventure used to be a generic "fantasy-themed" land (much like the other areas are themed along Jurassic Park or Marvel comics or Dr. Seuss etc.). This was the only area that did not have some sort of pop-culture reference or tie-in, so it always stuck out as a little weird. So when Universal acquired the rights to a Harry Potter themed park, it seemed like a no-brainer to repurpose this area. It was easily done by re-landscaping the area with snow-covered buildings in the vein of Hogsmeade. They were able to keep several of the pre-existing rides. The two roller coasters are hold-overs from that Fantasy-themed area, that have been "re-themed" (as much as a roller coaster can be themed) to Harry Potter. The big awesome roller coaster was called "Dueling Dragons" and that was easily swapped to Dragon Challenge, and they changed the queue for the ride to be Goblet of Fire themed with lots of stuff from the TriWizard Tournament. The little baby coaster I think used to be called the Unicorn but was changed to the Flight of the Hippogriff, they added Hagrid's cabin as decoration in the queue, and now when the roller coaster leaves the station it goes by this very impressive audio-animatronic figure of Buckbeak. The inside ride is a motion simulator where Hermione "enchants" your seat to fly and you fly through all of these scenes from the HP World, including a Quidditch tournament, past some Dementors, the Gryffindor common room, etc. That's a brief history of Hogsmeade as it exists at a theme park in Orlando.

Posted on September 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm 0

On Visiting Hogwarts When You're Broke

Yay Sarasota! That's my beautiful and awesome home town--I didn't realize how beautiful and awesome it is until I left (of course), though thankfully my parents still live there so I get back on the regular. Sarasota has some fun theaters. At what theater were you working? Diagon Alley sounds AMAZING. I was at Universal last December (when it and the 60s style hotel with the lazy river were still under construction) and Hogsmeade was pretty great, but Diagon Alley sounds even more great. I also like the incredible amount of Harry Potter content the Billfold has had as of late. Billfold, please keep that up!

Posted on September 23, 2014 at 11:41 am 0

On Tipping Housekeeping is Controversial? (No It Isn't)

@Catastrophe Waitress I'm from Florida and so is my mom; my dad is from Ohio. My husband is from sort of all over (born in the Northeast to parents from the Northeast, grew up in the Midwest, went to high school and college in the South) and he also never really realized that this was a "thing." I saw it on a message board online somewhere and immediately felt shame and started doing it.

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm 0