Dollars and Sense

This month 20SB is hosting a Blog Carnival in conjunction with Charles Schwab.  In my mind it is kind of an unlikely pairing, but hey, we twenty-somethings should learn what to do with our lack of money!  Actually, I took advantage of the recent economic struggles in the country as I saw it as an opportunity to start making some investments.  The market was low and I had some liquid assets and I have the time to wait for the markets to rebound.  So actually, I opened my investment account through Schwab on the recommendation of my family and so far, I have been pretty happy.

One of the stipulations of the blog carnival event was to test drive Schwab’s new financial fitness check-up tool.  Basically, it is a short questionnaire that tries to determine where you stand in terms of financial habits.  I tried it out and did my best to answer the questions truthfully and I got a score of 84, which puts me in the “Good” category.  I certainly try to be good about my money but i know that there are things that I could be better about.  I am probably a little more frivolous sometimes than I should be, but I have never really felt like I was hurting for money and I have never really been living from paycheck-to-paycheck.

Schwab wanted some feedback on the check-up tool, which seems reasonable.  It was pretty straight-forward and easy to use.  In general I felt like the questions were very general questions.  I don’t really know what the point is because I am not sure what your score is supposed to tell you.  What is the next step and what is the goal?  For that matter, aren’t everyone’s goals slightly different?  Is the answer that Schwab gives the right answer for everyone?  I don’t know.  I suppose, if nothing else, it is not a bad place to start though.

The real topic for the Carnival though is to write about something that you were happy you splurged on or a time that you should have not tapped into the coffers.  For me, there are two things that come to mind.  First, I have an annual splurge that I am still trying to figure out how I afford.  Each year since I moved out to Utah I have bought a season pass for skiing.  Unfortunately, Utah is probably one of the most expensive states to ski in.  You can’t really pass it up though when you live there!  Normally I do take some time to contemplate big purchases, but I have never thought twice about skiing.  It is not a cheap sport to be involved in, that is for sure.

I live about 30 minutes from seven of the 13 ski areas in Utah, so picking where to get a pass was an interesting decision.  The first two years I was out there I qualified for a deeply discounted pass at the Park City Mountain Resort.  After that there was one heck of a price hike.  The average pass in Utah for an adult is over $1K for the season with most around $1.2K-$1.5K.  I like to get the most bang for my buck so I discovered that you can get an Alta/Snowbird Pass for $1.5K which is the same price as Deer Valley alone, so this seemed like a great idea.  I certainly have never regretted that decision.  I get great enjoyment out of the skiing and I don’t usually end up hurting too much in the wallet.  Besides, Alta is probably my favorite ski area.

My really big splurge though, was significantly bigger than a ski pass.  All things considered, I am probably really still recovering from the purchase.  As many of my readers should know, I am a photographer.  While I don’t rely on my photography to make a living at the moment, I am a professional.  When I was hired on as the staff photographer for PTC I decided that I really needed to step up to a professional level camera, needless to say, they cost some big bucks.

Now, I didn’t need to go top-of-the-line flagship model camera, that would have been a little too much, but I did want something that could keep up with the times.  I did as much scrimping and saving as I could, but this purchase really made quite the dent in my financial situation.  When all was said and done I probably ended up paying more for the camera than for my computer.  Totally worth it though, I love my camera and I have been making a decent little income off the theatre photography business.  It isn’t huge, but every little bit counts for something.  Besides, you do need to have the right tools for the job!

Of course I am now looking towards the next big purchase that I have on the horizon, a new computer.  I am a creative professional and I could really use a desktop computer at home with a nice big screen.  Those 27″ iMacs are looking super sweet.  I am not entirely sure how and when I will come up with the money for that AND continue to keep up my skiing habits, but somehow it all seems to work out in the end.  I know that I can’t sacrifice my living budgets (food, rent, gas, etc.), but I will figure it out.

Legal Stuff:

It should be noted that while I am a Schwab client, I am not employed by them nor am I in any way affiliated with the company.  I only keep an investment portfolio thought them.  The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the opinions of any other people or organizations.

Disclaimer: This post is part of the 20SB Blog Carnival: Friends & Money, sponsored by Charles Schwab. Prizes may be awarded to selected posts. The information and opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the views or opinions of Charles Schwab. Details on the event, eligibility, and a complete list of participating bloggers can be found here.






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