Semi-Charmed Life


Empire State of Mind

I went to the city this morning to take care of some paperwork, which required me to go to my company's midtown headquarters. I've been working in downtown Brooklyn for about a year now. When I got out the subway station this morning, it felt it was the first time I was visiting NYC. There's so much energy in Manhattan that is sorely lacking at my current location.

The way people are dressed, the hustle and bustle in everyone's movement, the loud sound of early morning construction mixed in with the other sounds of city . . . it all made me really miss working in the city. I felt like a country bumpkin visiting a big city for the first time.

The midtown location makes my current location feel like a garage. I tried my best to not be impressed by the simplest things (beautiful wooden furniture!) but it was hard. The paperwork only took about 10 minutes to complete and then it was off to the dungeons of Brooklyn after that.

In other news, I am terribly disappointed with myself this last billing cycle. I overspent my budget by about $300-400, which really hurts. I blame the holiday season, but I guess on the bright side I was doing my patriotic duty by stimulating the economy.

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“Lunch Notes From My Wife”

Now, I'm not the type of guy to normally use a word like this, but if I were that type of guy, I might be inclined to call this cute.


Lunch notes from my permanent roommate

Written by Chris Illuminati on January 25th, 2010

I loved calling her pre-wife. I hope the permanent roommate catches fire as well.

Anyway, when we have leftover dinner, the permanent roommate packs us both a lunch. Since they look identical, she started leaving a Post-It note so I would know which lunch was mine. At first they just said Chris but I guess she got bored with just writing my name. She started writing funny messages. I saved my favorites.

Stephen is our cat. Makes it even funnier.

Two things going on here: I was dying for an iPhone and I was having stomach issues and a day away from finding out I needed emergency surgery.

I eat a lot.

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Time to Buy a Lotto Ticket

I was walking down towards the subway station when I spotted a dab of mustard on my sleeve. I wiped it off with a napkin and as I was wiping it, I thought to myself "wait a minute . . . I don't even eat mustard." Took a sniff and it didn't smell like anything.

I spotted another stain on my shoulder and realized it was bird shit.

At least I didn't taste it.

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Opening Up The Books

Last Fall I came to the realization that I've been extremely irresponsible for the past 3 years or so that I've been working. Saving was never a priority. I would basically put money in my savings account whenever I felt like it, which was infrequent, and I never maintained any discipline so that I would easily spend whatever was in my savings whenever I felt I needed to.

That's a pretty long time to realize the value of saving, but I guess better late than never because I finally decided that the path I was on was no good. The first thing I did was break down all my monthly fixed expenses:

Breakfast - $80 (Based on a 4 week work month at $4 a meal)

Lunch - $180 (Same as above @ $9 a meal)

Metrocard - $89

Car Insurance - $145

Jiu-jitsu - $239

Phone Bill - $110 (Family plan)

School loans - $185

Rent - $400

Website domain - $15

End of month Dinner - $70 (Rough estimate of a dinner I have every month with a set group of guys)

This comes out to $1513. Is this a lot in terms of fixed costs? I'm curious how this compares with other people's fixed costs. At first I tried to cut down on the meals at work but I soon realized that I was not saving that much money by bringing my own lunch. Plus, the preparation time was just too much of a chore and I did not enjoy my meals as much. I ended up reverting back to buying my meals, but I now try to keep my breakfast and lunch budget as low as possible.

I put aside $1000 towards my savings every month. This leaves me with roughly $700 in spending cash. I'm not sure how other people feel, but being restricted to that amount has been pretty rough for me. Things come up here and there and I feel like I can't help but spend.

I am always aware of how much I have to spend though. I don't meticulously keep track of my expenditures like some of my friends do because it's too tedious for me. I'd rather work off of net income less fixed costs and savings and take it from there.

For the past year I've been working as a temporary consultant. I'm paid on an hourly basis, at a wage of $22/hr plus overtime. If I estimate my average weekly overtime to be 9 hours and being paid time and a half, that comes out to $61204 a year. I take home roughly $780 a week after taxes. I've never really put much thought into it, but that 34-35% chunk that Uncle Sam takes from my paycheck really fucking hurts.

Being an hourly employee is harsh because there are no benefits, plus you can't take days off and get paid for it. I have something in the works though, and if that pans out I should be in a better position very soon.

Typically, I am not comfortable talking about my salary unless there is proper context to it. If I make more than you, this is not meant as an act of flaunting.If I make less than you, teach me how I can make more! I have all this stuff in a spreadsheet I keep, but I felt like publicizing my expenditures, goals and earnings would force me to become even more focused on my savings goals. I make more than some people and less than some people.

I was inspired by my friend's blog over at Personal Finance Ninja. Check it out if you have a chance because there's some good stuff in there.

I have some more thoughts, but I'll post more when I have time . . .

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Snowboarding and Stuff

I'm not sure if anyone was expecting to read about day 3 of my glorious 3 day snowboarding weekend, but if you were I'm sorry to disappoint because the third day was basically just like the first and second day. Actually, the real reason I didn't write anything was because I lost my mojo and did terrible that day.

I felt a little burnt out from all the snowboarding this past weekend, but I was back in action this morning. I got a little trigger happy at work and bought a new pair of bindings, snowboarding pants and a new jacket:

Flow M7 2009

686 KR3W Lumberjack Men's Snowboard Jacket

Foursquare Pants

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