Mea Culpa – I Just Spent $1,450 At The Apple Store

The Apple IIc!

The Apple IIc!

Despite making a promise on August 31st to buy nothing this September, I broke down and bought a 13-inch Apple Macbook Pro yesterday.  You see, I was tempted by two things.  1) Apple’s promotion of getting a free $230 i-Touch with every notebook purchase, and 2) Steve Jobs is back in  San Francisco this week to address new product launches!

EXCUSES

  • I have been looking for a new laptop for two years now given my current 12″ i-Book is a hand me down from my wife.   It’s got only 512megs of RAM, a 20 gig hard drive, a sticky space bar, and is slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter!
  • My wife, on the otherhand, has a shiny 1-year old Macbook I bought her for Christmas.  Clearly, I am a little bit envious.
  • I walked down aisle 7 at Walgreens and a Loreal shampoo bottle told me, “Because you’re worth it!”
  • Nobody really buys me anything for my birthday and the holidays except for my wife.  I take it back.  My mom got me a nifty plastic cube with a clam in it last winter.  I think she found it in an old cubbard.  So who’s going to buy me anything?  Cue the violins!
  • Furthermore, $1,450 really isn’t $1,450 once I get my $230 rebate in the mail for my i-Touch.  I can then sell the darn thing on Craigslist for $199 and bring my total outlay down to $1,051!
  • Besides, how am I supposed to be a prolific personal finance writer on such old equipment anyway?  I can barely do any editing on my 12-inch screen.  Oh, the justifications of spending come spouting out now, and I can’t help it.

Losing Your Way To More Money

At the beginning of every year, I tell myself that I’m going to eat better and exercise more. Yet, every December, I look and weigh exactly the same and get frustrated until the New Year, when the cycle starts anew. My theory on weight is simply that we all have a weight range we fluctuate in, and every 5 years that band increases towards the heavier side! That was my excuse for my lack of improvement.

I used to also think that our weight was 70% hereditary and 30% diet and exercise until I saw the show “The Biggest Loser!” Now I think the ratios are the complete opposite. If you really want to get motivated and cry at the same time, you’ve got to watch the show. The show’s concept is simple. After 3 months of boot camp, whoever loses the most weight wins gobs of money! The results are astonishing. Season 7’s winner, Helen lost an amazing 140lbs from her original 255lbs start weight. Go Helen!

The Biggest Loser show demonstrates that with enough motivation and discipline we can lose a lot of undesired weight. In fact, for 7 seasons in a row each of the winners have lost over 100lbs!

FOOD EXPENSE & GOALS

On average, I spend about $20 a weekday for food and $100 per weekend for a total weekly cost of $200 and a total monthly cost of around $800! I had no idea how much I was spending until I decided to write everything down for two weeks and annualize accordingly. $800 was clearly overkill, especially since it accounts for over 65% of my then, discretionary spending.

When the downturn hit, I decided to do an experiment partly to bring down my food expenses by 30%, and partly because I was inspired by The Biggest Loser, to shed 15lbs and get down to my college fighting weight of 160. At 160 lbs, my
Body Mass Index
would be 23 (18.5-24.9 is normal weight) from slightly overweight at 25.5. If Helen can lose 140 pounds, why can’t I lose a lousy 15?!

Diamond Engagement Rings Bling Bling!

One of my good friends is getting married, and he asked me, “Sam, what on earth am I supposed to get her for an engagement ring?” What a question, that’s not easily answered.  Generally, the right answer is “whatever she wants“!  However, as we all know, sometimes ladies are harder to read than a children’s book in large print!

Before we begin, if any of you single guys out there want to attract the ladies, bust out the turquoise diamond ring guide book from Tiffany’s in any public space. The white book from Cartier will also do. I take the bus to work everyday, and I remember as soon as I took out the book from my bag, every single lady on the bus looked over. Just think, one of the great pick up lines to a staring woman could be, “Excuse me, but my friend asked me for his advice on this particular design (point to book), what do you think?” Clearly, if you use this line, you should not be proposing!

In the spirit of personal finance, let’s discuss some tips for buying an engagement ring.