Friday, July 26, 2013

Adventures in Spending: Next!

Greenery in Commons Park

Commons Park Graffiti{A few photos from Commons Park in Denver, Colorado}

Last time we chatted, I told you about my summer of travel and its cost.  I’m currently about $4650 in the red for this year, which is to say that I’ve spent $4650 more than I’ve earned.  I wanted to say a few words about that upfront.

My “debt,” if we can call it that, is only a debt to myself.  Until this year, I’ve always lived at or below my means.  My only real financial responsibility is to take care of myself, so I’ve been able to save money, most of which I plan to put toward a home.  There’s no real secret to my lifestyle: I spend money in ways that are meaningful and pleasurable to me.  I don’t spend money in areas that don’t matter to me.  Knowing what my priorities are, spendingwise, brings me peace of mind.  (If you’re curious, I’ve written two posts that speak in broad strokes about what I splurge on and what I pinch pennies on.)

Ideally, I’d be able to pay myself back this year once I start working again.  But I won’t have enough left over after expenses to cover that $4650, even though I’m looking forward to living simply for the rest of the year.  And on top of that basic fact, I have two exciting things to announce.

The first is that I am adopting a cat!  My friend Courtney (check out her awesome Pinterest boards!  I heart her and her good taste.) is making some transitions in her life, and she won’t be able to take her kitties with her.  Lucy is going to come live with me, and while I am nervous about becoming a cat-mom, I am really excited.  I love cats and have thought about adopting one many times.  What’s stopped me?  My long work hours and my travel.

Spendingwise, I’ll now be budgeting for cat food, kitty litter, a pet deposit for my apartment, and the occasional visit to the vet.  It sounds like a lot when I list it out, but I suppose it’s about time I started taking care of someone besides myself.  It’s good practice if/when I become a mother.

The second announcement is…(drumroll please)…Paul and I are talking about buying a car together!  Indeed, my carless days are coming to an end.  There are two sides to this story, and I’ll start with Paul’s.  He’s been thinking about selling his current car to get something smaller and more fuel-efficient.  On top of that, he just bought a bike (hurray!), so his need for a car may be lower now and in the future.  My side of the story is that I’m growing a bit tired of being so limited without a car.  I have to grocery shop at least twice a week because of the limitations of biking home with groceries.  I can’t shop at the Saturday farmers’ market because it’s about twelve miles round trip on the bike, and I’m just not that hardcore about biking, especially in the summer here.  My range is geographically limited by my willingness to pedal around town.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m still a huge advocate of biking for fun and errands, but can you imagine being 30-something and not having a car?  Keep in mind that I live in Texas, not Chicago or NYC or any of the other big cities with good public transportation.  I’ve been thinking that it’s time for me to have regular access to a car, but I’d rather not pay for a car that I want to use once or twice a week.  The price of keeping a car on the road seems prohibitive if I don’t need it every day.

Sharing a vehicle makes sense for us.  We love traveling together to other places.  We also like to go out to eat sometimes, and I’m just not keen on riding my bike in the dark.  And of course, grocery shopping is way easier with a car.  (Let’s be honest: it all comes back to food for me.)

Perhaps it seems a little premature for Paul and me to start sharing finances in a significant way.  We’ve been dating for about five months.  I know, I get it.  What if we break up?  Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the speed of relationships.  What’s too fast?  What’s too slow?  And as I’ve been talking about this topic with others, it’s become clear to me that there are no rules about commitment.  You learn as you go.  Paul is a wonderful partner.  He is reliable, funny, and caring.  He’s smart, open-minded, and easy-going.  He values trust in his relationships; he has a deep concern for social justice.  While I hope that we don’t break up, I believe that if we did, we’d do so in a way to minimize the damage to each other.  For that reason, I feel good about making a financial commitment with him.

Plus there’s a lot to be said for sharing the cost of a car.  We can justify getting a better car, which will hopefully be a greener vehicle with good gas mileage.  I feel better about sharing a car with someone rather than buying one on my own.  And this way, we’ll be sharing the cost of our adventures, which seems more fair to me.  (Thus far, Paul has been footing the bill for our trips around Texas.)

The first step in this car-sharing plan is to get me a driver’s license.  And so, with that in mind, I’m off to figure out what exactly that entails in the state of Texas.  Wish me luck!

Happy weekend, friends!

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