Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's all about the Benjamins

If I had been a boy, my name would have been Benjamin. Benjamin Renée.

OK, so not really. Not the middle name, anyway. Or maybe my boy name was Christopher. I wouldn't know, I wasn't born yet.

But that's not what this is about.

A couple of weeks ago we got my credit card bill. The one that had our new apartment's security deposit and first month's rent and all of my cross-country travel costs on it. It totalled more than $4000. $1400 of that was travel costs. I spent almost $500 on hotel pet fees... but only $10 on food (which is kind of amazing--the most expensive consumable I bought the entire drive out to California was a can of Red Bull). I spent $250 on gas. There was also about $300 of vet bills on there to pay for kitty sedatives and a stockpile of insulin for Jasper.

We've been going back and forth for the past couple of weeks about how much of it we could pay. I argued that we should just pay all of it. Jason wanted to wait until we got the stipend from the Navy to cover my travel. The problem is, we won't get that until he's out of training and reports to his command in May. So we had a dilemma: do we empty our savings account to cover it all right now, or do we hold on to our Benjamins by paying the minimum and waiting until next month to pay it off?

I voted the former, Jason the latter.

I grew up having the fiscally-responsible mantra "never pay interest" drilled into my brain: If you can't afford to pay for something when the bill comes in a month (if not pay for it up front), you can't afford to buy it--period. An excellent lesson. Thanks, Mommy! Also, always live east of where you work.

Jason's upbringing was different. Hence our opposing points of view.

I let it go until Thursday, the date by which I had decided I needed to mail the payment. I did the math and proved to Jason that we would have enough money to pay off my credit card and still afford our rent and car payments. It did help that I got a 5% raise this week (yay!).

He reluctantly agreed that I could pay the full amount.

He had wanted to go to an amusement park this weekend. I gently suggested that perhaps now was not the time, since we had bills to pay and ought not be adding to the tab. Even though we can get discounted tickets, there's still the cost of the drive there, parking, food, and souvenirs.

Again, he reluctantly agreed. See also: the wife is always right.

It might be hypocritical of me to veto Jason's fun day, since he just spent $200 on New Kids on the Block tickets for me. In all fairness, though, I didn't know he was buying them at all, let alone spending so much on them. And he got to have beer and pizza while he was at the concert, so it wasn't a total bust for him.

So the credit card payment is in the mail. We'll go to Disneyland next month when the Navy pays up. Meanwhile, we'll seek out entertainment a little closer to home.

Of course, we did go spend $100 on energy bars and beer groceries yesterday. Hey, it's cheaper to drink eat at home.


Anonymous said...

Good for you guys. I was raised the same way as you were. Except for that bit about living East of where you work. I have never heard that before.

Still, good for you guys! My husband and I have worked VERY hard to make sure our debt is minimal.

It is a good feeling to not have that hanging over you! :)

Allie said...

I never thought of this, but I live west of work and I am always walking into the sun (I walk to work). Genius.

And I agree with your credit card philosophy - I'm always one to pay everything off right away.

Anonymous said...

I am jealous that you get to go to Disney Land. Can we swap days when you go? I will go to Mackinac and you can go to Disney World.. Or better yet how about a MSU game. Although I am sure they won't be playing that day. =(

Maris said...

You're smart. I wish you'd manage my finances, too :)

Bayjb said...

Moving is so expensive. I am really good with finances, but that always seems to put me back for a bit

April said...

You are much smarter with money than I! I suck at that stuff!! (hence my debt)

Cary said...

You forgot another option: don't pay it at all. I find that to be the most painless choice, at least in the short term.

Congrats on your raise.

SuperWife said...

your "live east of where you work" thing has me intrigued... explain??? this is coming from someone who is on the search for new residence ;)

Heidi Renée said...

The "live east of where you work" thing is so the sun won't blind you during the morning commute--because you'll be driving west!