Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Second Home

I closed on my new home yesterday. The closing itself went smoothly. But I missed the commuter train to the suburbs because I took the bus instead of calling a cab. So I had no choice but to hail a cab at the train station and head all the way back home to grab my car. Which meant that I was running 45 minutes behind schedule. And missed the final walk through. Thankfully, my realtor agreed to check everything for me (e.g., ran the washing machine, air conditioner, etc.). Even so, I was 15 minutes late to the closing, which as my realtor pointed out, was very uncharacteristic of me. But now it's over and done with. And I can focus on packing and moving.

So, as my mom pointed out, I actually own two homes, at least until I close on the sale of my home in the city. Big deal, right? But for some reason, my mom is getting a big kick out of the whole situation - her daughter the soon to be unemployed grad student owning two homes. Sigh. Parents are funny like that.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Friends with Benefits

No, I'm not talking about the type of relationship Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn supposedly have right now. I'm talking about several friends who have been very, very good to me.

My friend P is someone that I hope to emulate. She's "holds loosely" the things that she has. She recently loaned her minivan to a group of college students. And when they struck a deer on a country road, she was glad that they emerged from the accident unscathed. Her thoughts were more for their well-being and safety than the cost of the repairs.

Her family owns a lake house, which they sometimes rent out during the summer months. But more often than not, she offers the use of the house to friends and family who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford a vacation rental. This past weekend, she offered to take me and several of my gal pals to the lake house. The weather was perfect. So we went water skiing, rowed a boat, lay out on the dock, played a couple of rounds of boccie ball, took a long walk around the lake, built a fire outside, drank hot chocolate and talked into the wee hours of the night. All my friend asked of us in return was that we split the cost of some groceries and help tidy up the place before we left. It was well worth the four hour drive.

Gas = $20 (technically $15, but since we were using a friend's car, I rounded up)
Groceries = $23
Total for the weekend = $43

Earlier this month, a coworker was giving away a couple of free tickets to a Cubs game. I'm not a huge fan of baseball, but I'm too frugal to let $35 tickets go to waste. And these were great seats. It took several last minute phone calls, but I managed to convince a couple of friends to go with me to the game. Again, a very fun, relaxing and frugal evening. As an added bonus, they were handing out free baseball caps to all of the women :-)

Hot dogs = $4
Drink = $3
Nachos = $3
Total for the evening = $10

I learned the next day that my coworker and another coworker go in on season tickets every year. And more often than not, they wind up giving the weekday tickets away, usually to support staff.

All this to say, I'm grateful that I have generous friends and coworkers who share freely of their wealth. This wasn't always the case. When I was younger, I used to be jealous of my 'rich' friends and relatives. Kids who drove around in fancy cars and wore designer clothes and spent money like there was no tomorrow. One of my friends in junior high invited me to go water skiing with her and her family. Strange as it seems, I rejected her offer because it seemed too much like charity to me. So maybe I've matured a bit since then. Despite the fact that I may not be able to offer my friends expensive 'perks', they seem to enjoy my company anyway :-)

Monday, June 04, 2007

How Much Did You Pay for That?

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but it kind of annoys me when people ask me how much I paid for a particular item. Chalk it up to natural curiosity, but I still think that it's kind of rude.

When I mentioned that I was putting my condo on the market, an acquaintenance immediately asked, "For how much?" When I got a hair cut the other day, the owner of the salon said, " got a new car. How much did you pay for that?" In the elevator a few weeks ago, a total stranger asked, "I like your purse. Where did you get it? And how much did it cost?"

I mean, most of this information is publicly available (e.g., real estate list prices and closing prices). And we all know people who actually volunteer that information, either because they're insecure and want you to think that they're rich and successful or because they want you to admire their bargain hunting skills. I tend to fall into the later category. If I get a great deal on something, and I'm excited about it, I might mention it to a friend or blog about it. But more often than not, I'd rather keep that information to myself. For example, I bought several sets of fine bone china from for much less than you would have paid for comparable dinnerware from Crate and Barrel.

So, what do you think? Is it rude to ask random strangers or even acquaintences how much they paid for something? In my mind, it's kind of like asking someone about their net worth or how much they earn.