As you know, we had a terrific Question-of-the-Day Marathon in August. Below you can read the rest of my answers for the month (Part 1 here). Enjoy, and let me know if you want me to elaborate on anything!
Q: What’s the best deal that you’ve ever gotten in a store?
A: I’m not sure about my best deal ever, but I always get mindboggled when I’m shopping at an off-price store and I see what the original price was– once I got a $90 dress for $5!
Q: Do you have any side income other than your paychecks?
A: Does doing Pinecone surveys count? And then the little bit that comes from my blog, I guess.
I also have two vague dreams for side work for the future: writing fiction, and selling decorated cookies! The first I’m actively (though slowly) moving towards, the second may always be an idle fantasy….
Q: What are your vices?
A: My dessert habit is both a financial and nutritional vice... I've gotta keep well-stocked with cookies and ice cream!
Q: While growing up, what were you taught about personal money management by your immediate family and surroundings?
A: Good question, and something I’ve been meaning to blog about.
We never talked too much about money directly when I was a kid, but some things I picked up from my parents were:
- If you really want something, you can find a way to afford it. As a kid, I knew that although I couldn’t have everything we wanted, if there were things I really wanted, the family would make it happen financially. Things like vacations (not lavish ones, but not super-cheap, either) were important to us as a family so we took them every year. I never felt rich, and we weren’t, but I saw money as a tool my parents always seemed able to manage to help us do what we most wanted to do. (In retrospect, I know that some of the trade-offs included things like not saving enough for their retirement.)
- If you really want something, you have to work to make it happen. For example, when I was 12 and fell in love with horses, my parents told me they’d pay for only two riding lessons a month. Either I could be satisfied with that, or pay for the rest myself. I worked in the stables, got a paper route, and babysat—and I got my weekly riding lessons.
- Spending money to impress other people is silly and wasteful. My family was very down-to-earth on this front, not much emphasis on status symbols or conspicuous consumption, and as a result I (thankfully) have no comprehension of how people can spend so much money on things because they’re brand names or trendy.
Q: What was the very first thing you purchased using credit? What was the very last thing you purchased using credit?
A: The first thing... hmm, I definitely don't remember. My best guess would be an airline ticket home from college, since that was back before I got in the habit of charging everyday expenses.
The most recent thing is groceries this evening.
Q: How much of a balance do you leave on your checking account(s)?
A: Way too much... I'm in the habit of keeping $1,000 in checking, but I know it's silly and I'm trying to work my way down.
Q: If tomorrow you were to suddenly find yourself unemployed, what would your action plan be and how much trouble do you feel you’d be in?
A: I'd be alright; I have enough in savings to last me a good long time. I wouldn't *want* to burn through a lot of my savings, though. It'd probably actually push me towards moving to the Washington DC area, a move I've been wanting to make. It wouldn't make much sense to do a job-hunt here in Chicago and then move in a relatively short time. My parents live in the DC area, so I'd probably move in with them for a bit post-move if I couldn't find a job.
I'd also like to say that I'd use my unemployed free time to work on writing fiction-- I hope I would-- although I have a suspicion things'd be stressful enough that it wouldn't be too productive.
Q: What is your hobby and how much money do you spend on it?
A: Good question!
My main hobby is writing fiction. It's pretty much free, unless you count the $10 or so every other month when it's my turn to provide food and drinks for my writing group.
Q: What factors affected the career you chose? Was it purely about the pay or were there other aspects that influenced the decision?
A: Well, I don’t think I really have a “career,” per se– I intend that whatever work I do will always be centered around making a positive difference in society, but I hope to try a wide variety of different experiences toward that end. Suffice it to say that money is pretty low on the list of what I value in a job (after social impact, personal enjoyment, personal growth and development, work hours and flexibility, etc)– although to be perfectly honest it pops up in my thinking more often than I wish were the case.
Q: In the past 24 hours, what have you done in relation to money?
A: The only purchase was buying snacks for my desk at work, $4.07. I did check my bank account and credit card statements online, though, and scheduled my credit card payment for next Monday.
Q: What does money mean to you?
A: For me, money is a tool, or a means to my ends. I’d go so far as to call it a “necessary evil”– I wish I didn’t have to worry about money in any of my decisions. But since of course I do have to think about money, I’m determined to completely master it instead of having it master me. It’s a tool I want to use as skillfully as possible in order to promote a good, happy life for myself and others. It doesn’t mean anything intrinsically to me, but I can control it to maximize the things that do matter.