Family and Finance

I was thinking about my parents' mindsets when it comes to finances, and wondering how much it has influenced my own mindset.

For example, my dad was very cheap. The few times we went on vacation I remember he was always grumbling about something. "You want to rent a bike along the beach? And it's going to cost how much?" My mom would eventually convince him it was worth it, but you could tell it took a big toll on her, and it certainly put a damper on the mood.

He never talked to me about his budget, or tried to offer me some insight as to his attitude. When I got older, he never offered me advice, or suggested I get a job. All I heard was "that's WAY too expensive" or "no", and then I would turn to my mom, and she would find a way to say yes (from her part-time job, since her career was in the toilet).

He was ok (up to a point) with spending money on himself; his problem came with spending money on us. I wonder if his attitude stemmed from his resentment of having a child/family before he was ready for it (they were both 24).

My mom, on the other hand, has always been a spender, both on herself and others. She's generous. She likes nice things; she likes vacations. But she also knows how and where to find things at a discount (be it Ross, Marshall's, garage sales). She worked full-time as a professor, when she could. Most of their married life saw us being moved around by my dad as he pursued his career (which obviously took precedence over hers). Her career was disrupted by him, but he was still resentful of having to spend money on her (and to a lesser extent, me).

What was the effect of this on me? I felt a lot of uneasiness around my dad. I found myself constantly disappointed. I certainly wasn't deprived as a child, but to have someone take you to Disneyland and then complain the whole way up to the ticket line and continue the complaints through the park... kind of takes the fun out of it. Why go to begin with? I hated that he was constantly talking about money. I was elated by my mom's opposite attitude. She didn't say yes to everything, but when she did say yes, she was happy about it - happy that I was happy.

I think that has definitely had an impact on my views about money. I have a love/hate relationship with my budget. I have a love/hate relationship with credit cards. I often think to myself "ugh, I don't want to be like him, throwing a fit over every dollar. If I (or M and I) want it, I'll buy it" and when it comes to other people, I really enjoy buying them random gifts, taking them out to dinner, etc. I get a real high from spending money. It relieves my stress. (And then I'm sure it goes right back to contributing to my stress after I see my credit card bill!)

I recognize the necessity of a budget. I definitely need to get better control over my finances (and need to find other ways to deal with my stress). But I also believe that when you make the decision to spend money on something or someone, you smile about it! (beyond the necessities anyway... I have yet to smile about paying for my car registration ;P)

How have your families contributed to your views on money?

Goals Progress

Wanted to take another look at my goals... since September is nearly over I need a kick in the butt to get everything accomplished!


  • Schedule appointment w/gyno - I need to still do this, and the below.
  • Schedule appointment w/doctor - I have a fear of flying. We're going on a 10+ hr flight in a few weeks. I've always sucked it up in the past (clutched people's hands, drank alcohol, shut my eyes really tight, prayed... the list goes on :P) but the other day my dad said, "why not try xanax?" I looked it up on Wikipedia and am not thrilled with the list of potential side effects, but thought I might as well talk to my doctor about it. Anyone had any experience with it?
Europe Trip
  • Book hotels in Germany - There are one or two loose ends to tie up regarding the trip, but otherwise I'm DONE! And now I just have to wait - just a couple weeks to go!! :)
  • Start learning basic French/German - Haven't had time for this... I think I'm just going to buy a basic phrasebook for my Kindle and hope it's enough. :P
  • Put purses/clothes up for sale on ebay - I'm going to try to do this by Tuesday night! Classes got canceled for the next 2 days, so I have a very long weekend :)
  • Update side bars and do a debt disclosure post - I've been avoiding this... partially because I'm waiting for stuff I took back to disappear from my credit card, and partially because I don't want to face the reality. :P
  • Keep up with readings for school - Yes! doing good so far :)
  • Figure out essay topic - I'm adding this goal, since I need to have this figured out by next Tuesday.
  • Figure out spring schedule - I won't be registering until mid-October, but I'd like to get this figured out ahead of time.
  • Gym 2x/week (maybe swim & elliptical)
  • Swimming 2x/week (at an outdoor pool - I'm tired of being so pale!)
  • Yoga 2x/week
Fail, fail, and fail. :( Making a renewed effort starting tomorrow. I plan to go to yoga at 11.

Contemplating the Future

I'll be choosing the classes for my final semester at law school in a couple weeks. I'm struggling with what classes and how many to take. That decision will affect when I take the bar, and when or what kind of job I can get when I graduate.

Here are my options:
(1) Go full-time in spring (16 units) and immediately begin studying for the July bar when I graduate in May
(2) Go less than full-time, and take a summer class. Find a law clerk position (or otherwise something that will pay decently, look good on my resume, and not overwork me to the point I can't study for the bar) until I take the bar in February 2010
(3) Take 14 units in spring, 2 units in summer, and still take the July bar
(4) Go full-time in spring, but don't take the bar until Feb 2010. In the meantime (May '09-Jan '10), work and study for the bar

Why am I thinking about taking a summer class?

  • I won't have to take a full load in spring and can work more hours and start studying for the bar.
  • I'll get a $4k student loan payment. Otherwise, I have no idea how I'll pay for rent. Not to mention Barbri, PMBR, and the bar itself, which will cost me over $5000.
  • I'll still be able to walk with my classmates at the graduation ceremony in May.
  • Loan re-payment would be postponed an extra 2 1/2 months.
Why am I thinking about waiting until Feb '10 to take the bar?
  • Well, first, it's only offered in July and Feb.
  • I would get more time to study and would (hopefully) have no problem passing.
  • Bar prep classes are smaller.
The downsides to the above would be that I'd have more student loans to pay back, I'd be in school for 2 1/2 extra months, I'd have to study for a class AND study for the biggest test of my life simultaneously (if I took the class & the July bar). I also wonder (if I took the Feb bar) if employers might look down on the fact that I waited 8 months.

Assuming I went with the traditional route (option 1), I would need to save up $4600 for living expenses, or $575/mo. There's no room for that in my budget. I can't work more right now; it's important that I focus on the classes I have left, and do as well in them as I can. If I took route 1, I'd have to rely on M for help. Which would really leave me feeling defeated. I HATE how I've had to rely on him the past couple years. We began this relationship with me being totally independent, freshly minted BA in hand and getting a pretty good salary, him an unemployed student, living at home. And now he's making 6 figures and giving me bail-outs! Sure, I'm in school, I'm not sitting at home twiddling my thumbs... but it's frustrating.

What's also frustrating is still hearing about all these recent law grads who can't find jobs... what if that happens to me?? 8 months out and still nothing? M says "you've never had a problem getting a job." But I've never had to deal with an economy like this!

Anyway. A lot of things to think about. A lot of stressful things!

Things I (and Maybe You?) Didn't Known About Credit Cards

I was doing a little blog browsing earlier today and I came upon a post (over at Punny Money) that was discussing people who write "see ID" on the back of their credit cards, and how that was a bad idea (the blogger went on to mention how he witnessed a salesgirl videotaping each ID as she was handed them).

I was a bit perplexed, because (1) I almost always show my ID before asked, and (2) I always thought ID was (and should be) required and frowned when I wasn't asked!

I did some research and found this article and then this article from the Consumerist.

I was vaguely aware of the fact that credit card minimums weren't allowed, though I've never thought to challenge it (usually the scenario goes like this - "oh, we have a $10 minimum." -- "Ok, let me grab an extra box of cookies!" haha). I had no clue that I had the right to refuse ID when asked (and didn't consider why I might not want to show ID). I also didn't know that merchants can't charge a surcharge for using a credit card - the gas station up the street from me does just that.

Apparently, you can report violations straight to Mastercard, but Visa violations should be reported to the bank that issued the card.

Am I the only one who was clueless about this?? Has anyone ever reported a store for violations? I keep reading that merchants are unaware of the merchant rules. That ticks me off. I'm going to bring a copy of the rules and make a fuss just to prove a point.

September Goals

I apologize for not posting much recently... I've had some drama with school (now over and done with), and have had a flurry of social activity, on account of birthdays and my friend leaving in a few weeks to do a Master's program in Europe.

I still have to get my finances in order and update my sidebars. I need to do that asap, but I've been putting it off out of sheer exhaustion. Always takes me a few weeks to get back into the swing of things with school. I will definitely get to this sometime this week!

September Goals (apparently I got hardly anything done in August! ack)

  • Schedule appointment w/gyno
  • Book hotels in Germany, possibly Italy
  • Start learning basic French/German
  • Put purses/clothes up for sale on ebay
  • Keep up with readings for school
  • Gym 2x/week (maybe swim & elliptical)
  • Swimming 2x/week (at an outdoor pool - I'm tired of being so pale!)
  • Yoga 2x/week

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