How Much Am I Willing to Pay for Convenience?

After I got back from the holidays, I noticed that the park across the street had put up two ice rinks. Yay, free ice skating! And then I remembered that I don’t have skates that fit anymore. Here’s a timeline of my attempt to get used skates.

The Cost of Winter Biking

Winter biking in Minneapolis isn’t for the timid. It’s cold, the roads are both slippery and narrower than usual, and cars aren’t exactly friendly. But Minnesotans are nothing if not hardy, and proud of it. I’ve been biking to work this winter, and here’s what it has cost me:

Winter Tires: $65 each, $130 total. I decided to go with the Continental Winter II tires, because they’re nearly as grippy as studs, fit on the wheels I have, and they were in stock and relatively cheap.

Various bike service odds and ends: $59. I got the winter tires after riding in to work on my normal tires—on 4 inches of snow. When I took my bike in during lunch they also adjusted my brakes, fixed my fender, and replaced an inner tube.

How Having an Allowance as a Kid Governed the Way I Save Money as an Adult

My parents started giving me an allowance to teach me a lesson. They wanted me to be responsible with money; they wanted me to understand that money has value, and that having money means spending it wisely.

Can I Afford to Help People?

In the fall I’m going teach childhood literacy as an AmeriCorps member in Minneapolis.

The job description says that the pay is approximately $900/mo., but other AmeriCorps members have told me that after-tax take-home pay is more like $800/mo. That’s $200/week, $9,600/year—a small number no matter how you phrase it. I’m passionate about childhood literacy—it’s why I applied for AmeriCorps in the first place—but before committing to the job I had to take a serious look at my finances. Could I afford to spend this year making such a small salary?