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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Spendthrift Scholar? What I Want to Do in 2010

My blogpal, Mr. Over the Cubicle Wall, suggested this retitling. That's because, in response to his confession of spending about $50.00 on new shoes for his first purchase of 2010, I mentioned that I had recently paid my property taxes, paid the dribs and drabs of college fees not covered by scholarships for my two children, bought a new computer owing to the demise of old one, paid for car insurance, and on and on.

Although I think the term is a bit harsh, I will continue with what I want to do or to get this year.

1. I want to go to Vienna with my mother. This is a trip that will be filled with emotional resonance; in fact, my hands get shaky as I type. I have never been to Vienna, where my mother was born, and from which she miraculously escaped in 1938 with my grandparents. As in many families, this is an area marked by silence and mystery. A Vienna trip was also the last my mother took with my father in spring of 2008. They left a bit early because my mother was (presciently) worried about his health. They planned to return. I'm hoping both my children can go too. Miss Em saw the form I helped my mother fill out over the holidays, which contained a rather bureaucratic apology for National Socialism, and asked for her existence to be notarized so they could send her $1000.00.

I figure this trip will be almost $10,000 if we all go.

2. And, on a lighter note, I want to do a bit of home reconfiguration. This may include a BATHROOM enlargement. Just a little bit. My house has the smallest bathrooms imaginable in a home of its size. Tiny closet size. Both of them.

No idea what that will cost. Maybe $20,000?

I know that various personal finance sites scoff at saving on the little things. They counsel saving on the big things. But I save on the little things so I can be a little--yes--spendthrift on the big things. I also usually overbudget on those big things, so I can be pleasantly surprised when they come out under the anticipated amount.


see you there! said...

I'm with you, save on the small things and spend on the big ones when you can. Spending money on travel is so much better than spending on more "things" in my opinion.

Good luck on the bathroom remodel. I hope you can get it done for the price you have in mind.


Duchesse said...

I'm all for you spending where you want; you have the judgment and heart to make wise choices. In my experience, the family trips are extremely important and worthwhile, all the more so when "roots" are part of it.

As for the bathroom, we were tempted to demo one and get the lavish reno but ended up restoring or replacing every existing surface ($4k) including fixtures, no structural changes. A terrific success.

IMO a big bathroom is just more to clean. If I have enough bathrooms I don't need big ones.

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

how about financially responsible scholar? :)

Shelley said...

Well, whilst I don't see you as any way 'pathological' I don't think any of the expenditures you listed (unless you went really wild with the computer purchase) as being in the least spendthrift; one could discuss whether you must put your kids through college, but on the whole I'd say you were meeting your responsibilities.

I agree with saving on the big stuff, for example, for the first house I bought on my own I opted for a 15 instead of a 30 year mortgage, saving $44,000 in interest. I knew it would pinch a bit at first, but would get easier. In the end I paid it off 10 years and I've no idea how much more interest I saved. It's just that the big stuff doesn't come up very often, so I save what I can on the small stuff.

The whole point -- the only point for me, as I have no heirs I wish to make rich, is to save for the important stuff. For me, it's not about what I wear or having the latest something or other. For me, it's about not having to work at a job that crushes me, having time and energy to pursue my interests and being able to see places I never thought I would.

In my book, going to Vienna with your mom is a major priority. She won't be around forever (my Mom's been gone 20 years now) and it would be a great experience for you both, I think, not to mention a lasting memory. I once knew a lady, well respected in her field, who said it was worth spending money to make good memories.

The bathroom? I have a reasonably large one, at least by British standards. The people who had the house before I did gave up a 4th bedroom and a water closet to have a big bathroom and a large landing at the top of the stairs. I'm envious that you have two bathrooms.

I can't remember Amy Dacyczyn's definition of frugal, but it was something to do with living within one's means, meeting responsibilties, having emergency funds AND, within that, having the lifestyle you want. So, if you want a 2nd bathroom and you can afford it, why not?

But definitely get yourself and your Mom to Vienna!

Frugal Scholar said...

@see you--Actually I hope I can get it done for less, much less.

@Duchesse--Thanks for the encouragement. I share your feelings about large bathrooms, but one of ours has a shower so small that I am uncomfortable in it, and Mr. FS--who is tall--can barely stand it. Your numbers make me think I can do it for a lot less than my out-of-thin-air budget.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Cubicle--No, I like spendthrift! I am too responsible most of the time.

@shelley--I think we may be soulmates in the frugality dept. I always agree w/ everything you say! Thanks for your thoughtful comments.