Archive: Mar 2010

Pillow seat

I am seriously sitting on a pillow right now. I have to buy a better seat for my bike if I’m going to ride it like I did yesterday.

Yesterday was pretty awesome though. Started out the day by bringing our bikes from the back for the first time this year. D pumped up the tires. Sheena came over with a borrowed bike. We got our helmets adjusted, and then headed downtown. Up many hills, through traffic lights, to the bank for cash, and then to City Bagel for breakfast. Next we were off to the middle of campus for the International Fiesta, otherwise known as the one day you can get ethnic food outside of a personal residence in Starkville. This year was bigger and more organized than previous. There was dances, martial arts, traditional costumes fashion show, singing, music, and lots and lots of food. We ate things like Native American fry bread, Sri Lankan fish balls and mango and pineapple salad, Korean rice tea, Thai chicken satay, and more. We gathered various goodies and then sat on a picnic blanket and shared. We saw several people and Jason and Rumana hung out with us some. The sun was shining, and of course D got a little sunburned. Then we headed back to the house. All and all, it was 8 miles of biking. I haven’t biked that much in one day since the early 90s. It actually felt great minus my behind. I must buy a better seat.

We cleaned up and then headed out to see Jason’s parents who live in a small town not far from here. I wanted to check out their homemade greenhouse construction, the tons of seedlings his dad has been growing, and a former rabbit pen they offered me as a chicken coop. It was a very good visit. I love being around dog and garden people. We are taking the rabbit pen, so I guess this means I’m getting chickees! Their names will be Henriette, Capucine, and Genvieve. I imagine we’ll spend a good part of the upcoming three-day weekend working on that in the yard. It’s good sturdy construction. I just want to add a different floor and maybe put on lock to deter crafty handed raccoons. I have a spot in the yard picked out. I will be keeping them for pets and eggs. I plan to get babies in the late spring.

After that, we went out to Grumpy’s for an Earth Hour celebration. We drank a little, snacked on salads and sweet potato fries, and listened to music by candlelight. We were exhausted from such a long day and slept hard. Best night’s sleep I’ve had in maybe a year. Apparently I just need to exhaust myself every day.

Meet Alicia, 26, from Starkville, MS

This is my first post in ING’s Customer Blogger series. Over the upcoming months, ING will be following me, Matt, Nancy, T.J., Susan and Alison on their savings adventures.

Alicia
Starkville, MS
Age 26

Bio: I’m a college graduate with no debt! I took an office job to pay off my student loans and have been slowly saving for no particular goal other than to have a savings. My husband is pursuing a PhD, so as of right now I am the breadwinner, and English majors were never meant to be breadwinners. Our income and savings while meager allows some travel and indulgences such as our two pound puppies and two indoor rabbits. I live in rural Mississippi, and I like to be anywhere else.

The Mis(sissippi) Adventures of a Born Again Saver:

Flashback: I am 8. My brother is 16. I have saved $81 over a year from sweeping the house, washing the bathroom walls, scrubbing love bugs from the mini-van bumper, vacuuming my dad’s cigarette ashes from the Dodge, and raking and bagging pine needles throughout the fall. My brother has come to me to ask for a loan.

Just $20, he asks. I say sure, but there will be interest.

Upon learning my rates, he declines.

Unfortunately, I’ve since relented on holding on to my money so dearly. My big goal in 2009, after paying for the wedding, was to pay off my student loans before they accrued interest. I succeeded in that goal, a major accomplishment that has (so far) granted me a debt free life.

But without any medium term goals, my savings drive has idled. Where I was once able to save money quickly for the wedding and for the loans, growth in my account balances is now far less impressive. With no debt, what’s to keep me from driving to Birmingham, Alabama and spending $1000 in all the glorious stores that don’t exist in the stark Mississippi town I live in? Nothing, apparently. I don’t care too much for my job, and I feel I should be rewarded, and reward myself I do.

But that is about to change.

I just signed our electronic tax return for 2009 last night. I knew we’d get some back, but I’m still used to the tiny returns I got from making 8k a year as a graduate assistant. Whenever a big check comes in, I always wonder what to do with it. Previous projects have been: my Nikon D60 including two lenses, 4 wisdom teeth extractions, the trip to D.C., and (of course) student loan debt.

This year? The whole check will go into my savings where it will sit until I hear back from Sewanee Writer’s Conference. If I get in, a portion will go toward that. If I don’t, it goes toward my first NYC trip. (Actually, I’m going to NYC regardless.) However, I will NOT spend all of my refund. I hope to keep at least half of it in my savings account.

Hope is the key word. Sewanee is $1700. How poets afford a $1700 conference, I’ll never know. I guess they depend on office jobs (like me), don’t have cable (like me), don’t have iPods or an iPhone (like me), and drive older cars (like me).

I’m certainly not deprived. Living in rural Mississippi has infected me with the travel bug. Last year, I think I spent at least 25 weekends out of town, which makes saving money more difficult. If I had stayed in town a few more weekends, I could have easily tripled my savings from last year, so this year my goal is to travel less and save more. I get awfully bored down on the farm. I start craving Pho, Pad Thai, and all sorts of delicious ethnic food I can’t get here, and before I know it I’m gassing up and heading to Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, or New Orleans and shopping the whole way.

This weekend I’m headed to Georgia, and I’m debating stopping in Atlanta.

I know I don’t need to go, but H&M, Trader Joe’s, and the giant Asian market are calling me. The biggest problem I have without having debt is I have little stopping me from spending money when the occasion arrives. I need to get in touch with my inner 8 year old and hang on to my money. I hope this keeps me honest.

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