Weekly Update 6

This week was spring break at our university and while we didn’t take off work, we did take things a bit easy and tried to catch as much of the ACC tournament as we could.  Unfortunately, our team is not going to the finals of the tournament, but I’m still planning to watch tomorrow.  Several top-ranked teams lost over the last few days so I don’t feel toooooo bad.  We had friends over to watch the semifinals so that’s always fun.

I started doing research for a post on the “earned income” aspect of Roth IRA contributions for an upcoming Roth IRA blitz posting that Jeff Rose at Good Financial Cents is organizing.  I tried to track down the sources of my funding for my four years in grad school by talking with my department’s payroll person and my graduate program’s administrative assistant.  It’s surprisingly difficult and confusing to sort out all this information.

On Saturday I called up our cable company to try to get them to reduce what we’re paying for internet.  Right now we are paying $60/month and the promotional price for the same service is $30/month.  No dice.  They told me they could take $4 off our monthly bill but couldn’t execute it right then.  Kyle suggested we drop the service entirely for a month, then try to re-sign up at the promotional rate.  Has anyone done that successfully?

Finally, regarding our one-car decision, we dropped my car from our insurance and rented out our parking permit for the rest of the year.  No going back!

Posts I Liked

SB @ Financial Product Reviews wrote an extensive review of Google Wallet, the technology that enables you to pay for purchases with a wave of your phone (with perfect circumstances).  I was really excited the first time I heard about this type of app and I’m excited to use it once there is wider adoption!

J. Money at Budgets are Sexy is considering installing solar panels on his house and asked his readers for their input.  I’d be wary of getting into a 20-year contract and so would probably buy the panels up front if I had the cash.  This is something we’d like to do once we buy a house.

Well Heeled Blog wrote a great post paralleling how to succeed in personal finance with how to succeed in weight loss.  The analogy between budgeting and calorie-counting is very close.  I would LOVE this post if I still though that calorie deficits drive weight loss, a notion I disabused myself of over a year ago!  Oh well – it’s still a great PF post.

G.E. at 20somethingfinance wrote an awesome explanatory post on Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).  Not being a homeowner, I didn’t know much about PMI, but I’ve seen it mentioned often in blogs and in the news.  I love that G.E. described PMI as a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch mine” kind of deal!

John at Married with Debt listed a bunch of frugal tips as well as discussed the difference between frugality and cheapness.  He also provided a link-back opportunity for bloggers who have written full posts on these tips, so send yours over!

Tim Sullivan at Get Rich Slowly posted a reflection on the good and bad choices (not just financial) he made as an undergraduate.  If you’re a college student, definitely check it out – and ask people in your life who are a few years older than you for their reflections!

Denise at The Single Saver vented her frustration over friends and bloggers who make poor money decisions, and then listed a few good tips for how to influence those people without turning them off.

 

Mentions

No More Spending included Do You Ever Just Give In and Spend? in her Sunday link love.

Kari at Small Budget Big Dreams gave Why Do We Make Rules If We’re Just Going to Break Them? a shout-out last Sunday.

Sicorra at Tackling Our Debt included The Financial Implications of Dropping One Car in her circle of friends.

Karl at Cult of Money listed Why I Took Out a Car Loan for More Than the Purchase Price of the Car in his weekly devotional reading.

Jason at Work Save Live added The Financial Implications of Dropping One Car to his weekly recommended reading.

Michelle at See Debt Run listed I Will Not Accept Your “Exciting” Rewards in her weekly summary.

Thanks everyone!

 

Carnivals

Do You Ever Just Give In and Spend? was featured in the Financial Carnival for Young Adults 2nd edition.

Why Do We Make Rules If We Are Just Going to Break Them? was featured in the Carnival of MoneyPros 2nd edition.

 

Top Comment

Emily too wrote several very raw, honest comments on some posts last Sunday that I appreciated and valued very much.  The types of questions she asked and details she gave are what I would love to see more of on this blog – people opening up and asking each other for help and inspiration.  I don’t think I have all the answers, so if some others can chime into this conversation as well that would be awesome.  Emily too wrote “Sometimes I think saving 10% and giving 10% will be more possible when I have the same income year-round, and that income is higher…but then I realize that people always think they would have more freedom if they had more money. Do you have financial goals that you’re waiting for, or do you think it’s better to just make it hurt now and get used to it?” on Why Do We Make Rules If We’re Just Going to Break Them? and I responded at length there.  Thank you Emily too for your comments and please let me know how things are going!

 

Most Frequent Commenters

  1. Emily too
  2. Jason @ Work Save Live
  3. Daisy @ When Life Gives You Lemons
  4. nicoleandmaggie
  5. Sicorra @ Tackling Our Debt
  6. Dave @ Gen Y Finances
  7. Suz McA

 

Top Sites Referring to EPF

  1. No More Spending
  2. Tackling Our Debt
  3. Work Save Live
  4. Get Rich Slowly
  5. Young Professional Finances

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16 Responses to "Weekly Update 6"

  1. I’d suggest canceling the Internet completely (or threatening to do so). A few years back I called and simply said I needed to cancel my cable and Internet because I was doing a volunteer year and couldn’t afford it. I didn’t ask for a discount, I just asked to cancel it. Magically, after about 5 minutes of holding the rep came back saying they could give me half off for a year. Keep trying, it can’t hurt and if they don’t budge cancel the whole thing and start fresh with them in a few months.

    1. Emily says:

      We’re hesitant to threaten to cancel without being prepared to follow through. We tried that with our cable and that’s why we don’t have cable! Our cable company has no direct competition. While we might be able to survive a few weeks without internet, it’s not a long-term solution so we want to be sure we can get it back in some form if we do cancel. I’m just so sick of paying this huge price for the one service!

  2. Heather says:

    I’ll have to read the Well Heeled Blog’s post about the parallels of weight loss and budgeting… The other day I went on a hike with some friends and mentioned your finance blog. My friend said, “I’m not a big budgeter–I guess I don’t like thinking about money/having money control my decisions, so I do my best to live well within my means, so I naturally save and spend based on my financial situation.” And then I thought, yeah! That’s sort of my thought on eating! I don’t like counting calories/nutritional facts, but I do like eating healthy. So I do my best to naturally strike the balance, to the point where I subconsciously make good decisions about what I eat. Every now and then I might check to see if I’m getting the right nutrients to be sure I’m on track. I think there are + and – to both ways (of budgeting and eating). Finding out what works best for your life situation is the important part.

    1. Emily says:

      For sure that’s one way to do it, and that’s basically how Kyle lived before we got married. I’d like to think that I would be able to do that at some point in my life, but probably it’s just not my personality. I love optimizing at the detailed level both with money and food tracking. I think the key there is if you don’t track you’d better be able to recognize when you’re going off the rails (not months down the line – oops I gained 15 pounds/oops I’m $3k in credit card debt), and unfortunately if that were to happen you would be somewhat disadvantaged in getting back on track because you won’t have data to work with.

  3. Thanks for the mention. I’d try to cancel and let them woo you back. See if Netflix streaming is available. It’s 8 bucks a month.

    1. Emily says:

      We already have Netflix streaming, but we’d be limited to streaming over the phone without internet!

  4. Leigh says:

    What about cancelling and opening a new account in the other person’s name? Say it’s currently in Emily’s name, cancel it and open a new account in Kyle’s name.

    1. Emily says:

      I think that’s what we would do but I’m not sure if that would automatically give us new customer rates since our address and last name would be the same, plus we’ll have to pay the start-up fees. Probably no way to know unless we try!

  5. Emily too says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful replies. I had to take a break from PF blogs for a few days because I kind of realized that thinking too much about what I’m not doing right by personal finance standards was making me overly anxious, and that some types of adjustment are going to take time (it turns out we can’t make a realistic budget based off of one month of marriage, for example, you have to wait and look for patterns). I think it’s going to be a longer process of, for example, reaching those giving and saving goals instead of just something that’s going to happen if we’re really disciplined next month. I do appreciate seeing how other grad students manage it though, most of the people I know just live off most or all of their income on the assumption they’ll make up for it later, and seeing the example of “grown up” budget on not that much more than my income is pretty inspiring.

    1. Emily says:

      I think you and I share more than a name! I get anxious about our budget on occasion too, and my husband has asked me before to not look at Mint so obsessively. It’s very reasonable to take time to get your budget in order after a major life upheaval like marriage. I don’t think I mentioned it in my responses, but we’ve been married for almost two years and have gotten progressively more frugal and tight with our budget over that time to enable us to reach goals. For instance, I’ve increased my retirement savings from $200 to $350 per month during our marriage. No way we could have implemented that in month 1. My husband also reduced his fast food budget from about $40/month to $0. It’s definitely a process. I’d say adjusting your budget 2-3 times per year to get closer to your ultimate goals is reasonable – maybe less with your summer funding complication. Good luck and don’t get discouraged!

  6. I’m glad I was able to send some love your way! I agree with others – cancel the account and open it in the other person’s name to see if you can get the promo price. Just make sure they don’t rope you into a 2 year contract or something where, once the promo price ends, you’re stuck at an even higher premium that you pay now.

    1. Emily says:

      Gosh, I hope we’re not still living in our apartment in 2 years! But we will be wary of contracts.

  7. Jeff Rose says:

    Good luck on your research on the Roth IRA post! Can’t wait to check it out. :)

    1. Emily says:

      Has the sub-topic suggestion gotten any traction?

  8. Richard says:

    I think there is a waiting period for existing customers such that you must not have service for 6 months before you can qualify for the new customer discount. Switching to a “roommate’s” name only works if you don’t have the same last name. While TV is still a joke, there is competition for your internet. I suggest you look into Clear wireless as an alternative to LocalCableMonopolyInc. They start at $35 a month for home service.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for the specifics! I’ll pass these on to my tech guy.

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