The Money Diaries: The 29-year-old business student who’s juggling over 10 credit cards
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Today is another post in the Money Diaries series, which is based off New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries. We’ve collected stories from real people about their spending habits over seven days, anonymized them, and posted them here.
11:38 a.m.: Wake up late. It’s nice to not have any work or school…yet. I just finished my summer internship the previous week, but my second year of business school starts in just 6 days. Yikes!
12:30 p.m.: Ate lunch at home and save some money. It’s a nice perk of living at home with the parents before I move back East.
1:00 p.m.: The Dow goes down 419 points. Lots of stocks are looking very cheap, it’s time like these I wish I had some cash still. Even though there’s a lot of uncertainty now, I’m confident in the fundamentals of the companies I invest in so this is a great opportunity to pick up some stocks on the cheap. I have about $75,000 in student loans which I plan on paying back once I graduate. The rates are so low now so I consider it a smart financial move to take on loans while I keep my savings invested in the market.
3:41 p.m.: Purchase roundtrip tickets back home for a wedding for $366.80 using Hipmunk, which is a pretty neat airfare comparison site. Even though the wedding means I’ll be returning home to the Bay Area only 9 days after I start school, I couldn’t imagine not attending. At least my Citi credit card has a promotion for 5% cash back on air travel. I have 10+ credit cards, but primarily use 3 depending on the cash back rewards (one for general purchases, one for eating out, and one for gas). I pay off my balances each month and watch them all like a hawk. (It’s kinda fun). I primarily use a credit union for my banking needs since it offers really great terms, but I keep most of my savings in my trading account.
4:00 p.m.: I consider getting my car professionally cleaned since a friend’s dog got carsick and threw up in the backseat of my car over the weekend. I reason that it’s not that bad so I clean it myself.
9:05 p.m.: Running a little late for a second date with a girl I just met. I originally wanted to take her out to dinner, but she’d already eaten so we go to some fancy bar on Sand Hill Road. A glass of wine for her and a martini for me (I was in a James Bond mood) set me back $40 ($30 + $10 tip). I’m not really a bar guy so I’m not really sure how much to tip, but I figure $10 is more than enough. If only they made $6 bills, that would have been ideal.
11:16 p.m.: After the date, I head over to Lucky to pick up some Jelly Bellies for $9.39. I have plans with a “friend” the next day and she mentioned her favorite flavor so I got her a bag of Green Apple. Dating can really add up.
11:26 p.m.: Even though I usually try to empty my tank before I leave the area for extended periods of time, I fill up my tank for $46.70. Good thing my American Express card gives me 3% cash back on gas.
10:46 am: Wake up to a text that my “friend” is too sick to meet up and she reschedules to the next day. Sigh.
11:57 a.m.: Call Dell about an email I had received about getting a $75 Gift Card for purchasing an extended warranty on my laptop. Even though I received the offer after I had already purchased the warranty, I’m a longtime IWTYTBR reader and was just trying to channel my inner Ramit to see if I could swing the gift card. It turns out you have to spend $200 to qualify and I only spent $180. That’s enough to deter me from pursuing it further.
4:30 p.m.: Saw a deal on Slickdeals.net for $65 off $100 ($20 off $50 when using AMEX, $20 off $50 for checking in on foursquare, and $25 off $100 Coupon) and I head over to Sports Authority to buy a tennis racket since I’m trying to take up tennis. At the store, I look up prices and ratings using the Amazon mobile app and end up getting a $140 racket for $84.48 after tax. Score! My foursquare check-in gives me an additional $25 in cash cards which I plan to use in conjunction with another coupon I brought. I browse for more items and end up losing the cash cards. I look around everywhere for them, but they’re nowhere to be found. I share my plight with the manager and he rummages through a pile of coupons. He doesn’t find the cash cards, but gives me a $15 off $50 Coupon. Even though it’s a nice consolation, I still lament the loss of the cash cards. I use the $15 off Coupon to get 2 pairs of insoles ($20 each) and a 3-Pack of socks for $43.28.
6:00 p.m.: Go to Fry’s and return 2 HP Wifi I mice bought online for $32.45 in credit. I liked the idea of not having to plug a receiver into my laptop so much that I got two. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the feel of the mice in my hands so I had to return them. It’s just one of the perils of online shopping.
8:25 p.m.: I get a mouse I’m familiar with on Amazon for $18.79.
9:00 p.m.: My parents have left for Reno already, but my Mom has prepared food to sustain me over the weekend. It’s a quiet evening as I stay in and watch Hulu and Netflix and eat leftovers. Is that lame for a Friday night?
11:50 a.m.: Wake up and go to my local credit union to deposit the last paycheck from my internship. I look at the earnings summary and regret withholding so much since I only worked for 2 months and don’t anticipate paying much in taxes this year. That would have been a nice chunk of change to add to my trading account.
12:00 p.m.: Go to Chase to open an account for a $150 bonus. I know Ramit would probably advise against these money making schemes, but it would probably only take me about 30 minutes of hassle since I automate the process and would just close the account after I get the $150. I leave when it turns out it requires direct deposit for which I have none.
2:20 p.m.: I get the bright idea to try indoor skydiving. After confirming with bar girl that she can make it, I make reservations for 2 for $133.85.
3:05 p.m.: My friend texts me that she’s in the area and can help me shop for sunglasses which we’ve been meaning to do. I’m fashion-challenged so when it comes to stylish clothes and accessories, I have female friends pick those out for me. Even though the items they pick are usually not on sale, the value of their tasteful opinions is worth paying full price for the confidence it gives me. I end up getting Ray-Bans for $172.12. I buy her a snack at a fancy French bakery for $17.40 to thank her for her help.
6:30 p.m.: Jelly Belly girl is sick still and cancels on me again so I get a much-needed haircut instead. $15 including $3 tip.
7:15 p.m.: Another low-key night of Netflix at home.
11:33 a.m.: Bar girl calls and says she has to work later that night and won’t make it to indoor skydiving. We’ll meet up for dinner instead at a tapas place I mentioned to her earlier. I call the indoor skydiving place and put it on hold for an additional $20 charge.
12:30 p.m.: Eat lunch at home.
4:50 p.m.: Go to Walgreens and buy a gallon of water for $1.89 for an early evening basketball session. I usually buy 5-6 Arizona Iced Teas, but this will save me money and from consuming empty calories.
8:00 p.m.: Dinner with bar girl comes out to $90 ($18.01 tip). We have a nice time, but the wine clouds my mind and I probably tipped more than I intended. I use my Chase Ink card which gets 3% cash back on dining out.
10:20 a.m.: It’s my last day before I leave for school so I made some goodbye plans with friends. The first stop is Jamba Juice since I won’t have much chance to go when I’m in school. Nice, my friend pays for my Powersized Strawberries Wild with Immunity Boost. I am a Jamba Juice monster, and it only lasts 10 minutes.
10:35 a.m.: In-N-Out is another West Coast favorite that I will miss, and I pay $7.14 for myself and him to return the favor.
11:30 a.m.: We head over to a ramen place and meet with another friend. It’s cash only, and I’m the only one with cash (how convenient) so I have to pay for everyone ($44). Since I’m already full from In-N-Out, I get most of it to-go.
12:40 p.m.: Rush over to watch Conan the Barbarian. Since I paid for lunch, my friend pays for my ticket. Even though his lunch was probably twice the price of my movie ticket, what’s a few bucks between friends? Conan is not very good.
3:50 pm: Return clothes I had bought online to Macy’s ($165.57) and Bloomingdale’s ($298.77). I purposely buy more when I shop online to make sure I get the right size (and qualify for free shipping).
7:25 pm: Rush over to a goodbye dinner with friends, $15. Show off my new sunglasses even though it’s indoors and nighttime.
11:45 pm: I guess I don’t want to leave California, and I miss my flight. I get it rescheduled to another airport which means I’ll have to rent a car to get to my final destination. Then I scramble to reschedule picking up my apartment keys and my appointment with movers at my new place. I make a makeshift pillow out of luggage to sleep on as I wait for my newly rescheduled flight.
4:00 a.m.: Check baggage ($60). It’s cheaper than shipping cross-country.
4:45 p.m.: Get an overpriced panini at the airport, $8.12. Then I rent a car even though they quote me $200. It seems there’s some NASCAR event that week that’s driven up all the prices.
8:40 p.m.: I get 3 value items ($3.87) at Arby’s. Then I maximize the use of the rental car by going to Walmart to pick up apartment supplies, $163.09, which I’ll split with my roommate. Then another $36.59 on fruit and snacks at the grocery store.
10:35 a.m.: When I return my rental car ($194.88), I find out they charged me for all the extra services (loss-damage, etc.). I wonder if that’s standard policy when you don’t return the car to the same location. I’ll have to look into that.
1:15 p.m.: I’ll sign up for the school dining card later to get a 13% discount on the cafeteria. For now, $3.99 for soup.
6:00 p.m.: Pay movers $185. It only takes 1 hour, but the minimum is 2. Tip $15 anyway since they were students and could probably use the money. I’m splitting the costs with 3 other people anyway.
08:00 p.m.: Splurge on dinner with new roommate at the best Indian restaurant in town, $24. Yum.
Total spent: $1,816.43
Total deposited: $3,032.94
Total returns: $496.79
Meals at home: 7
Meals out: 8
Cancelled Dates: 2
Indoor skydiving: 0
Lots going on since I was meeting up with people before I left, dating and preparing to move back to school. I used to try to adhere to $10 of discretionary spending (including eating out), but now I’m comfortable with spending based on value derived from the good or service. My only regrets are not taking advantage of the market declines more and missing my flight since all that scrambling cost me a bit of money. Oh, and leaving California, the greatest place on Earth.