What We Spent In Ireland

Flights

$672.06 + 67,324 Amex MR
Economy class on Aer Lingus x2

After hours of frustration that an Aer Lingus ticket booked with 50k BA Avios would somehow be more expensive than booking with cash, I decided to use my Amex points to cover the cost of a ticket. There were cheaper flights available, but they’d have been at weird times and require layovers in Germany? đŸ€”

Accomodations

$889.41 + 50k IHG + 25k Starwood
AirBnB x3, Castle x1, Holiday Inn x2, Westin x1

If I had to change one thing about our trip, I’d have spent more time in the Irish countryside and less time in the cities. For our one night in the country, we got to stay in a beautiful castle next to a field of ponies in a lush room with a two person jacuzzi. Just look at how gorgeous this is:

And that castle stay cost less per night than the sketchy, illegal AirBnB we stayed at in the bad part of Dublin, for which we picked up our keys– I kid you not– in a lockbox attached to the barred windows behind an abandoned building.

Transportation

$986.49
Car rental, parking, tolls
IMG_20180909_155352
We got a small hybrid, which managed to last the entire week without a fill up. FiancĂ© did all of the driving; I have a hard enough time when driving on the right side of the road. 🚘

Food

$640.78
Lots of restaurant food, most of it mediocre.

I am going to be honest: I did not have high expectations for Irish food. Our first dinner in Dublin, the mushy orange paste on my plate had been so boiled to death that I could not tell whether it was tomato or carrot. đŸ…đŸ„•?IMG_20180909_161918
When we took trips out of the cities, I found it much easier to find good food. The best by far was the multi-course dinner in the castle we stayed at. They took something as simple as chicken broth and took it to the next level. Note to self: the secret is to cook down to a concentrated stock and clarify with eggs. Sadly I forgot to take pictures of it and, really, most of the food, so you get the above shot of a kind of mediocre suburban mall meal instead. đŸ€·

My advice? When in the cities just go for the Indian food or cook your own meals; save the pubs for the rolling countryside. Be warned though: even at the best of places, though, the flavors were still quite subtle (read: if you like heavily spiced food, you will be disappointed).

Activities & Sights

$644.90
Victor’s Way, Dublin Fringe Festival hip hop performance, National Museum of Ireland – Arts & Archaelogy, Book of Kells, falconry lesson, seaweed oil massage with brushing, Black Cab Tours, Giant’s Causeway, Irish Linen Centre, Newgrange monument tourIMG_20180913_142339~2

As Fiance’s first international trip and our designated honeymoon to boot, it was important to me that our trip to Ireland be special. Cue the $350 falconry lesson and $130 seaweed massage. 🐣🌿💆

You hear that? That’s the sound of my soul leaving my body. đŸ˜±đŸ‘»
IMG_20180911_121319~2
Jokes aside, I am glad we splurged on this special occasion. We got slow motion footage of real life hawks dive bombing us for food and Fiance’s skin has been sooo soft since his exfoliating massage. Absolutely worth it.
IMG_20180913_134909~2
That said, the frugal traveler could get by in Ireland in a lot less. Ireland is replete with beautiful natural wonders and inexpensive historic sights to visit.IMG_20180909_142459~2
I personally recommend the willing traveler head north to visit Giant’s Causeway if at all possible. We didn’t manage to walk on the Carrick-a-Rede bridge while in the area, but have heard great things about it too.

Shopping

$247.04
Avoca scarf, tweed vest

FiancĂ© bought himself a scarf and a tweed vest that’ll be part of his wedding outfit. Usually I would also get gifts for my friends when traveling abroad, but I didn’t see anything I thought they’d like.

Other

$503
Luggage fees, airport parking

These are the “unforced errors” of our trip. As in, it would have been so easy to circumvent these costs if we had planned ahead. In particular, FiancĂ© came straight to the airport from work, which ended up costing us $300 in parking fees. If we had researched the parking options and he had dropped the car off at home and taken a taxi or instead, or even if he had just used the economy lot, we could have easily saved $150-250 on that item alone. Sigh.

Summary

  • Flights – $672.06
  • Accommodations – $889.41
  • Transportation – $986.49
  • Food – $640.78
  • Activities & Sights – $644.90
  • Shopping – $247.04
  • Other – $490.26

Total spending: $4,570.93

Honestly, I am not thrilled with how much we spent, about a thousand dollars more than what I had expected for this trip.

Part of the mistake here was that we approached planning in a divide and conquer fashion. I booked the flights and hotel while FiancĂ© dealt with the auto-related items separately, so I ended up greatly underestimating how much the big ticket stuff would cost. Had I known our car rental and parking would be so expensive, I might have suggested we go to a better value destination. Or, at the very least, been a lot more proactive in curbing our expenses on “Food” and “Other” to compensate.

The other reason for the overrun here was that FiancĂ©’s mother is very generous and offered to let him use her card for whatever as a wedding gift. And I think it may have, ahem, caused him to be looser with the spending than he otherwise would have been. 😑

All in all though, I’m glad we took the time to have a nice vacation together. The next international trip on the horizon is a friend’s wedding in Copenhagen, but we haven’t decided whether we’re both going to that yet or just me. In any case, I would like to squeeze in one more fun travel experience before we have kids.

Have you ever been to Ireland? Traveled anywhere fun lately? Any recommendations for Copenhagen?

Advertisements

Week In The Wallet: Summer’s Calling Edition

A little update on how my life, financial and otherwise, has been going. All names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Saturday

I start the morning off with food that I prepped the previous night: sautéed oyster mushrooms, tossed greens salads, salmon, zucchini with onion and parmesan, and marinara sauce. (Note: you can assume that most of my meals came from my prep session unless otherwise stated.)

As the first nice weather day in weeks, I decide to go to the park, lay under a towering tree, and read the Henry James novella Daisy Miller.

IMG_20180826_114740.jpg

I then go on a nice long meandering walk downtown. I intend to use up my $50 Amex Platinum credit for Saks, but realize that’d only cover about half the cost of a tee shirt. I instead head to Eataly, where I grab a late lunch of roasted chicken, zucchini drowning in olive oil, and the most buttery polenta I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. After, I grab a small cup of banana sorbet atop a bed of my favorite olive-oil based chocolate sauce. Nom! $19.94

 

After lunch, I head back home to the opposite side of the river. On the way I stop by Supercuts to get my hair trimmed. It looks somewhat cleaner, but the change is almost imperceptible. I am excited for our wedding to be over, so I can just cut my hair short. $28.95

In the evening I try again to spend my Saks credit by browsing their website offerings. I learn that $50 is just enough to buy one bottle of Aesop shampoo. (Note: After actually trying the shampoo, I don’t really understand the appeal of Aesop. It’s fine enough shampoo, I guess, but definitely too expensive for what it is.)

Sunday

I head to the gym for some morning exercise, running a couple miles and climbing a few bouldering routes. In spite of climbing on and off for six years, I continue to be really bad at it. I consistently fail at doing V2’s and can only sometimes barely do V1’s. For reference, V0 is the easiest level. Maybe if I practiced more often I would get better? As it is, I only climb once every week or so and it always makes me feel super achy in my neck and shoulders the next day. I could also stand to be more strategic about my climbing, too.

IMG_20180826_131639.jpg

In the afternoon, I practice Pimsleur Mandarin, which I borrowed from the library. I have been really interested in improving my Chinese after seeing Crazy Rich Asians (particularly been mired in the you’re not Chinese enough feels). I like that Pimsleur is a completely aural program. I always had a lot harder time with speaking than writing when my parents put me into Chinese school as a kid. I have no ear for tones.

Going through the full Pimsleur series would be pretty expensive in the $400-500 range. I decide if I want to proceed with it, what I’ll do is get a month-long free Audible trial to get through Unit 1, then borrow Units 2-3 from my library (which has a lot less demand than the Unit 1 sections). I might then go back and pay for Audible to complete Units 4-5, or by that point switch to another learning method if I feel comfortable with overall feel of pronunciation.

Feeling exhausted from my weekend of ambling and physical exertion, I go to bed super early at 8:30. Goodbye weekend.

Monday

I start the day by filling out paperwork to finish off the 401k rollover for my old employer’s plan, specifically to get my post-tax traditional 401k contributions rolled into my Roth IRA (Mega Backdoor Roth for the win!). Luckily my new employer has their own Roth 401k, so I should be able to throw in lots of after-tax money in this year.

Time for work. Mondays are always a rush. I have back to back meetings until 2 PM, at which point I grab a container full of Indian buffet take-out for lunch. It’s pricey, but some of the best Indian food in the area, and it’s enough to leave me feeling full for the rest of the day. $14.00

IMG_20180827_135530.jpg

I decide to walk home at the end of the day in order to take advantage of the nice weather before the next 90+ degree heat wave hits. I live fairly close to my office, just a two-mile walk, but I take the long route which adds an extra mile. It gives me time to digest.

In the evening I chill out by watching the season and possibly series finale for Trial and Error which is probably the best comedy on television that nobody’s heard of after Steven Universe. So good. After that I start Henry James’ The American, which I read on my Kobo from my library’s e-book stash.

Tuesday

More Indian buffet take-out for lunch. $15.00

The rest of my afternoon at work is consumed by one client I’m working with. As soon as I took on the account, colleagues started walking up to me with a pitying look that said, “Yeah, they’re very demanding. Sucks for you.” The client is very disorganized and there are a lot of internal politics going on that spills over into their requests for our team. It’s messy and I always feel on edge trying to meet their overwhelming demands. Bah.

After work I head to the gym for a one-hour core class, my Tuesday evening ritual. I really enjoy the trainer’s music and exercise selection, doing a full hour of ab work every week has done wonders for sculpting that six pack I’ve been going for (I need to do a major cut to make it show, though) and also for improving my posture.

images.jpg

In the evening I’m still feeling a bit on edge from work and do some window shopping on Poshmark and Garmentory. I buy a Vince color block shirt on Poshmark, which is $10 off with an Amex credit. $22.49

Wednesday

My fiancĂ© Alex and I have regular board game nights with his friends Mitt, Tara, and Ingrid. Usually we take turns paying for takeout and this week it’s Mitt’s turn to tank. We end up playing Codenames and a funny Mafia-style game Alex found on the internet called Elon Musk’s iPod Submarine. From it I learn that apparently I think like a tech bro, sigh.

A couple weeks back, I lost Alex’s adaptor that he uses to charge his iPad in the car. After his friends leave, Alex tells me that the replacement adaptor I had gotten for him was Thunderbolt to USB-C instead of to regular USB like he needed. Whoops. I order him a new one and, for some reason, Apple refunds the overnight shipping costs. Sweet. $20.75

Thursday

One of my good friends Matthew is being hospitalized for a month. I have been taking care of his plants but notice that his apartment could also use a thorough cleaning. I mention this to my friend Anna; after work, she and her husband Simon join me in a multi-hour cleaning frenzy. Much vacuum, very Lysol.

After we’re satisfied with the state of things, we head over to a nearby Szechuan place where we share tea smoked duck, basil eggplant, and gobs of rice. $21.50

Friday

In the evening, I head to Anna’s house where we make lemon bars and rainbow cookies for our weekend trip to visit Matthew. And by “we” I mostly mean Anna and Simon who are amazing cooks, though I do help with a decent amount of the prep work. They order in Thai food, which they share with me.

While baking, I get to let off some steam about my job. Anna and Simon are both in tech, so it’s nice bouncing thoughts off them. They also have introduced me to various folks they know who I also consult as mentors when I’m hitting a brick wall.

I don’t like to think of my friends as “valuable resources”, but they really are. It feels nice to feel understood and that we care for each other. I like having them in my life. ❀

Weekly Total

Saturday $48.89
Sunday $0
Monday $14.00
Tuesday $37.49
Wednesday $20.75
Thursday $21.50
Friday $0

Total $142.63

Financial Update – August 2018

Each month I will post an update on my finances to both give you, the reader, some insight into my situation and to give me markers of my progress on my financial journey. My updates consist of two parts:

  • Financial Progress Table – Tracks net worth progress.
  • Spending Table – Compares monthly spending to an average (for me) “bare bones” budget, keeping me accountable for additional expenses.

For now, monthly updates include only my personal net worth and spending. As my fiancé and I combine our finances, updates will shift to cover going values instead.

Financial Progress

Each net worth goal in the Financial Progress table is broken down into undisclosed units of money. My current goal is to reach “Financial Freedom.” By the time I reach this goal I will have:

  • A retirement account that can support us when my fiancĂ© hits 65
  • Two college savings funds funded for four years of in-state public university tuition, room, and board
  • An emergency fund for six or more months of living expenses
  • Sufficient liquidity for my fiancĂ© and/or I to make a career change with one to two years’ runway
  • A mortgage less than two times my gross salary without bonuses

Once “Financial Freedom” is achieved, the focus will then working be towards “Financial Equilibrium”, where the income from investments covers all our ongoing expenses.

august 18 net worth.png

Spending

I’ve created a “bare bones” budget which represents the average minimum amount I can expect to spend each month. This is the minimum amount I need to comfortably live in case of a job loss, emergency, etc. I expect to frequently go over my “bare bones” budget in a number of categories (here’s looking at you, “Groceries & Dining”), but I want to remain accountable to myself when I do so.

For privacy reasons, there are two things I do not include in my spending updates: my monthly mortgage and charitable donations (pegged at 10% of my net income).

aug 2018 spend.png

Monthly Summary

I have been overwhelmed with stress lately. Between work, the wedding, a close friend in the hospital, I am barely getting by. Hopefully by mid-October things will have settled down.

I shelled out a lot on food this month, but that’s nothing new. Otherwise, I think I did decently. On investments, it looks like the stock market has been gangbusters. Honestly, that worries me a lot. Not really sure what to do though except keep plowing in.

Notable things that happened this month include:

  • Showing up when it mattered for a friend in need

How were your finances in August?

Making A Career Mistake

I’ve been at my new job for six weeks now and I am starting to get the hang of things. My boss has me working with a big, important, and innovative client. My team likes working with me. I have already made some impactful changes that is improving the way things are done. To top it all off, the company is doing very well financially and, should it make the right changes, could very well make its way to success.

In spite of all this, I think I made a mistake taking this job.

I was right to quit my old job. The organization had a lot of problems that, over the years, had led to a lot of emotional baggage. Morale was low, infrastructure was breaking, and the long term trajectory of the industry was iffy.

But there were good things at that job too. Friends whose company I enjoyed, interesting and moderate workload, lots of variety, and by the time I left some sense of expertise.

At my new job, I have… none of these things. Some of my coworkers are fine but none seem open to new friends. The work is much easier than my last job, but there’s so much more of it and my clients, somehow, are 10x more demanding than any I’ve ever had to deal with before. And every time I ask a question to technical contributors not on my primary team, they look at me like I’m an idiot to be endured at best.

If it were just that list, though, I wouldn’t feel as I do now. In fact, I worried for a while that I was just dealing with the new job blues. But I’ve realized that there are big issues that I hadn’t considered before at this place, the kind I wouldn’t have been able to gauge in an interview. My boss (contrary to the “let me know if I can help”) doesn’t have time to mentor me in any meaningful way (or if they do it just adds more work I’m super not interested in doing on my plate), there are significant process issues that senior leadership has failed to make, and frankly I find the client management part of my job to be tedious rather than invigorating (turns out, quality of client matters a lot!).

I also feel like the career change element was probably not what I wanted either. Like, what I am doing now is way easier than the work at my old job. That said, I feel so much less satisfied with the type of work I am doing. Far less technical and therefore in my brain less cache.

So now I’m here six weeks in wondering… well… what next? I could wait it out at this job for a couple years until my non-compete runs out and go back to my old industry, opening up my own shop. Or I could just bite the bullet and become a developer already. It’s still probably too early to quit, right? Sigh. Maybe this is all there is?

Anyway, that’s what’s up with my life, work-wise lately.

Have you ever made a bad career decision? Do you feel like you ever recovered? If so, how?

Financial Update – July 2018

Each month I will post an update on my finances to both give you, the reader, some insight into my situation and to give me markers of my progress on my financial journey. My updates consist of two parts:

  • Financial Progress Table – Tracks net worth progress.
  • Spending Table – Compares monthly spending to an average (for me) “bare bones” budget, keeping me accountable for additional expenses.

For now, monthly updates include only my personal net worth and spending. As my fiancé and I combine our finances, updates will shift to cover going values instead.

Financial Progress

Each net worth goal in the Financial Progress table is broken down into undisclosed units of money. My current goal is to reach “Financial Freedom.” By the time I reach this goal I will have:

  • A retirement account that can support us when my fiancĂ© hits 65
  • Two college savings funds funded for four years of in-state public university tuition, room, and board
  • An emergency fund for six or more months of living expenses
  • Sufficient liquidity for my fiancĂ© and/or I to make a career change with one to two years’ runway
  • A mortgage less than two times my gross salary without bonuses

Once “Financial Freedom” is achieved, the focus will then working be towards “Financial Equilibrium”, where the income from investments covers all our ongoing expenses.

July 2018.png

Spending

I’ve created a “bare bones” budget which represents the average minimum amount I can expect to spend each month. This is the minimum amount I need to comfortably live in case of a job loss, emergency, etc. I expect to frequently go over my “bare bones” budget in a number of categories (here’s looking at you, “Groceries & Dining”), but I want to remain accountable to myself when I do so.

For privacy reasons, there are two things I do not include in my spending updates: my monthly mortgage and charitable donations (pegged at 10% of my net income).

July 2018 spend.png

Monthly Summary

I had a whole thing here and then WordPress ate my entire post. Grumble grumble.

Anyway, this month I did okay in spending. The biggest overages were hotel reservations for our honeymoon and ordering various group deliveries for our hosted game nights and the like.

I’ve been in the progress of doing a lot of little financial moves to get our money in order before we get married. I’ve had to call so many customer service lines and I hate it every time. Bleh. Hopefully I’ll get most of the rest done in August so I don’t have to deal with it between our trip and the wedding.

In the non-financial department, life is kind of weird right now. I’m still kind of struggling at work and have yet to develop any sort of proto-friendships there. Meanwhile, there are some things going on in the background with regard to our friends and family that are out of our control but still kind of concerning. And, you know, the world is crumbling apart and our country is still actively abusing migrant children. I feel pretty saturated with despair and worry and sometimes hope. Very, very exhausted.

Notable things that happened this month include:

  • First month at the new job
  • Picked berries for the first time and learned how to make fresh raviolis with friends
  • Went to the Cape for a quick summer vacation

How were your finances in July?

What Is Casual Dress Code Even

It looks like I’ve been getting a lot of traffic on my “Should I Think Less About FIRE?” post. It seems like it came from someone’s email newsletter, but I can’t tell from whom? In any case, thanks internet stranger! And welcome new readers!

I know I’m on break, but I had a couple quick things I wanted to talk about with regard to my new company’s casual dress code.

First of all, “casual” pretends it is not a dress code, but it totally is. It mirrors what I think a lot of us had as school dress codes. As far as I can tell, casual means that one can wear jeans and T shirts, but that things that are more skin-revealing (even tank tops or off-the-shoulder looks which are trendy right now) or bodycon are really out of place.

Even within the realm of T shirts and jeans, some tees are normal and others are out of place. Lightly patterned tees (stripes, dots, little dog prints, etc.) are fine, but emblazoned words and three wolf moon-esque shirts are not. Also, fit is extremely important. Especially if one is literally wearing tees and sweats, the right fit is the one thing keeping wearers from being seen as truly unkempt.

Second of all, my business casual-leaning wardrobe is really close to feeling out of place at my current work place. I’ve been defaulting to my silk shirts and jeans and I’m worried it’s causing people to see me as too dressy to be technical? Like sometimes people don’t bother telling me things I can completely understand because they are “subtle”, but like I would really appreciate people to just tell me in order to perform my job thank you very much. Maybe this is just in my head? A projection of imposter syndrome, perhaps?

In any case, I think I’d be well-served to add a couple more pairs of jeans to my rotation and some non-silk shirts. I don’t really want to just wear tees, personally. Feels too informal. Some minimalist cotton or linen blouses, I reckon, but no button-ups because even as a bust size B, those tend to pucker like whoa. Recommendations welcome!

Third of all, I have a $50 credit to Saks through a new Amex partnership via my Platinum card. I can burn the credit between now and the end of the calendar year. It’s enough to buy maybe a third of a garment? Not really sure how and whether I’ll end up using this.

Alright, back to my exponentially increasing to do list!

Does your workplace have a “casual” dress code? What does that even mean? Any minimalist cotton or linen tops you’d recommend?

Taking A Break

Hey y’all,

So, between the new job, wedding planning, combining finances, Ireland trip, and contemplating the end of the republic, I’m pretty busy right now. Therefore, I’ll be taking a hiatus from putting up content on this blog. I’ll still be reading other people’s sites here and there and may comment and put up sporadic posts, but will probably not resume regular posting at least until the fall.

Hope you have a good summer!

-YAPFB