I find that weddings are relatively easy to decline, assuming the friends in question aren't ask-you-to-be-in-the-wedding-party close. Most people understand that a plane ticket + 2 nights in a hotel can get really pricey. The asks I find difficult to decline based on money are more subtle: the fancy restaurant group birthday dinner for a good friend that you know will end up being ninety bucks a head, or the beach weekend that will be $300 each when it's all said and done and you'll have to share a sandy bed with someone all weekend anyway. I'm fortunate to be in a position where these expenses wouldn't make or break me - I'd still be able to pay my mortgage and afford my kid's daycare. But I'd just rather spend that money on other things, or have it left over at the end of the month. I wish someone would tell me how to decline *those* invites without coming across as a joyless penny-pincher.
We fostered a lot before I got pregnant (once I was forbidden to clean a litterbox, my husband had his hands full just cleaning up after our own two). It is SO much fun, and well worth your time. And ps - it's a *great* way to screen potential pets if you're in the market for one; both our cats came to us as fosters. And we fostered from a no-kill shelter, so I always knew they would be adopted when I gave them back. The only additional expense we always encountered was tapeworm meds for our own cats. No matter how much the Humane Society swore the kittens had been treated for fleas, apparently bitty kitty flea treatments are not that effective, so our cats always swallowed a few and ended up with tapeworms. Which are SO GROSS but fortunately very easy and cheap to treat (One pill! $2 apiece on Amazon! Not the end of the world, even though you'll think otherwise the first time it happens!).
One more thought: If you're paying for doctor visits out of your own pocket, I'm guessing you might be tempted to delay or even skip some visits - eg, it's not like a sore throat means I'm dying, so it is realllly worth $150 to have a doctor spend two minutes looking in my mouth? Health care is supposed to be there whenever you need it, not just for those occasions when you're deathly ill or lose a finger. People with better health plans take better care of themselves.
What Greenbeans said, pretty much exactly. #3 seems to rely way too much on dumb luck and never getting sick, so that's out unless you're a big gambler. And I'd definitely pay the $600 difference for peace of mind, even if I never ever saw a doctor for anything other than the insurance-defined preventive care (unlikely). Plus, health care premiums aren't taxed, so that $600 difference is actually more like $500 out of pocket. Ten bucks a week.
We used a realtor for our (Atlanta) house hunt and it didn't cost us a dime - her 3% commission came strictly out of the seller's end (I thought this was standard practice? Maybe it's different in NY). And she was really helpful during negotiations - giving us advice on when to play hardball and when to back off a bit - and helped us cut through the red tape with the city's permits department. So I recommend, especially for first-time buyers with lots of questions (ie, us two years ago). But I wholeheartedly agree with not taking the max loan the bank offers you. Our payments are comfortable but substantial, and not ones we could make on one salary alone - and that's even after we only took about 70% of what the bank was offering.
My husband and I had a kid last year, so are life insurance shopping right now. I am confused by one thing though - I was told that term life insurance rates never go up, and the benefit never increases either...ie, we will pay about $100 a month for the next 30 years for a combined 1.5 million of coverage, period, the end. But Mike says his is a term policy, yet both the rates and coverage increase over time. I'm confused. Can anyone explain?
Mike - Totally off topic, but did the company you work for happen to have the initials PRN? If so, I'm guessing we know several people in common, which thrills me more than it probably should.
Josh, you are rapidly becoming one of favorite reasons to read The Billfold. Mostly because you are a fantastic writer, though the fact that we are the exact same age and I spent three long years in Hartford make me like you even more.
I grew up in southern VA - not as hot as Texas, to be sure, but summers were sticky just the same. Our house didn't have central AC, but we had two window units: one in my parents' room, and one in the den. No unit in the kids' room, where I slept in a muggy top bunk just inches from the ceiling. (My parents very generously let us come camp out on the floor of their room on particularly hot nights. THANKS.) I am strongly in the pro-AC camp, even though last month's bill was $242. I'm in Atlanta, and having an infant in the house gives me the excuse I need to spend stupid money on energy costs. That's $8/day, and I'm guessing about 5 of those daily dollars are directly due to AC. It's a small price to pay for the three of us to live and sleep comfortably.
I read your post yesterday and followed the link to find your other contributions, and I can't imagine how I missed this one the first time around. I love this piece so, so much. Godspeed, LGC!