Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Personal Finance Confessions: I want to buy lots of new gadgets! October 18, 2011

It’s quite possible the electronics I use are cursed.  First our Xbox 360 got the “red ring of death“.  Then my iPod classic (I’ve had it or an Apple-Care replacement since 2005 or so) decided it was tired of playing my podcasts (it may have jumped to its doom…accidentally).  So, now I’m in the market for new electronics.

Here’s the thing.  I just want to buy the new stuff.  And some other new stuff!  We’ve been thinking about getting an HD TV since we moved, and then of course we’d need a Blu-Ray player 😛 (or, more likely, a Playstation 3).  This is not really what personal finance savvy people are supposed to do.  I don’t NEED any of these electronics.  I just want them.

But I think I’ve already decided I’m going to get a replacement for my iPod.  I used it pretty much every day:  working in the lab, commuting or traveling when there’s nothing good on the radio, and when I’m cleaning around the house moving from room to room.  At this point, I just have to decide between the different models.  I like the FM tuner and accelerometer/fitness part of the iPod nano.  Then, I’m a bit attached to the good old-fashioned iPod classic, though I don’t think I’ll ever have enough data to put on there!  My old one is/was 30GB…the new one is 160GB!  What?  Then there’s the iPod touch, which is basically like an iPhone but without the phone…and the monthly fee.  And of course, I would only be able to use it when I’m near available Wi-Fi, but it sounds like their maps might be pretty accurate even without constant connectivity. And of course, I’m thinking there’s a lot of apps I’d like to try out!  And I could still do a lot with it even if I’m only connecting to Wi-Fi.

Yes, I’m bad at deciding.  Any recommendations?

As for the Xbox, the one we have may or may not be repairable (we haven’t tried yet).  It’s also 6 years old, which means there’s probably been a lot of upgrades since then.  So we’re thinking we might want to replace it.  Then we have to decide between the 4GB model and the 250GB model (we’re leaning towards the 250GB).  And do we get a Kinect with it?  It’s cheaper to buy it with the console rather than buy it separtely…but do we “need” it?  Each upgrade (more memory, Kinect) is another $100 tacked on to the price.

The other expensive electronics will probably have to wait.  We’ll hold out until we see a really good deal on a new TV, and we probably wouldn’t get a Blu-Ray/Playstation 3 until we had the fancy TV to go with it.

I know I don’t need any of these things.  I could look into repairing the items.  I could continue to save my money until…someday.  But, like I said, I’d use the iPod every day, the cost per use (assuming I don’t break this one…) will be pretty low over time.  I’m also shopping around for the best prices.

Do you ever feel bad buying new gadgets?  Is that your personal finance weakness?  Should I just be a good little personal finance blogger and try to repair (or trade in) the old items?


My Personal Finance Confessions October 30, 2009

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 6:45 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have a confession to make.  I’m not a perfect person.  I know.  It’s hard to believe.

But seriously.  I know there are so many rules that you’re supposed to follow when it comes to personal finance.  And I think I do a pretty good job at following most of them.  I spend less than I earn.  I transfer money automatically to my savings account every month.  I contribute to my 401(k) up to the company match.  I fully fund my Roth IRA every year.

There’s one thing that I don’t really do.

I don’t budget.

There.  I’ve said it.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she was lamenting how her mother was so impressed with her sister, because her sister budgets and has a vacation fund.  This friend was unemployed, but had been staying above water thanks to her savings that she’d built up.  She wanted recognition from her mother on this fact.  I commended her!  I’m very impressed by her high level of savings.  I assured her that, once she got back to work, she could start a vacation fund if that’s something that is important to her.  And that’s when my admission came out.  I told her that I don’t have a budget, either.

Why don’t I have a budget?

I don’t have a budget because it would be really boring and not very useful.  I have many consistent expenses every month (rent, utilities, car payment, student loans payment, etc.) which I know will happen each month.  Most of those costs are pretty non-negotiable, though I would consider paying more towards my loans to lower the principle.  The expenses I have every month that aren’t exactly the same each month are things like food (grocery store, lunches, dinners) and gas.  But in those cases, I have a total that I try to stay under.  I keep my grocery spending under $100 a month, and also keep my dining out to once a week, maximum, (and trade-off who pays with my boyfriend when we go out), and try to keep those expenses below $100 as well.  I’m trying to cut down on how much I spend at the cafeteria (i.e. trying to bring my lunch more often, buying cheaper options) but I try to keep my expenses in the cafeteria below $30 a week.  Yes, when you add up all this money over a year,  it’s quite a bit of money.  But I like going out to eat every once in a while.  And I need to have groceries.  I tend to spend less than any of the budgets.  But I don’t actually budget the money, i.e. figure out what money I have available to spend, then divide it between all of my expenses.  And I’m not really sure where I can lower any of my expenses (outside of the variable food), since I rarely go shopping.

So, am I making a big mistake by not budgeting?  I know where my money goes by tracking my expenses (after the fact) with Mint.  But I don’t plan things out.  I just inherently know my limits, and try to avoid spending money when possible.


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