Bike & Vacations

I didn’t 100% need a new bike. The $185 road bike I bought from Amazon in April was fine overall. In need of some adjustments, but perfectly ridable and allowing me to get some much needed exercise in. However the more I rode it, the more I felt it was lacking. Felt every little bump in the road, teetering on the edge of a puncture or bent rim. In 4 months ownership, never a case of being stranded or having something go wrong on a ride.

I’m not normally this gentle on a bike and wanted something in all frankness I could rough up a little bit and not bat an eye. So I started looking at Mountain Bikes. First on Craigslist. Messaged a few sellers but none of them even so much as responded to my email. Then there’s the concept of caveat emptor. Last thing I want is to spend $200 on a bike and need to spend $100 to fix it or later discover irreversible damage.

Next I checked out some of the bigger name bike shops. REI was one in particular. I liked what they offered, but the prices were way too high for my liking and they’re had a rash of bad publicity lately. So I decide to look at some smaller bike shops in the immediate area. They’ve all shut down. I expand my radius and see a few that met my criteria but none were open on a Sunday. Typically no Sunday and no late hours go hand in hand. That’s gonna be a problem.

GT Timberline 2.0 Bike : 349.99
Thule Thruway Pro Rack: 79.99

Total: 429.98
Tax: 35.47
Grand Total: 465.45

So yeah almost $500 for a bike. The first day I got it I rode 10 miles on it. Weighed myself and down 4 pounds almost lighter. Granted it’s mostly water weight, but if I keep this up the fat will just melt off me. I did puncture the inner tube though to my dismay. So maybe I get to ride again tomorrow if it’s fixed. If not it’s all the gym for me.

On top of that, I booked a flight to Las Vegas for November (~$310). It wasn’t my idea but I was pretty much peer pressured into going. This will be my 4th “trip” of the year. The Pennsylvania one for an interview and NY mostly for a baby shower don’t really count in my mind. Going to NY again for a wedding September.

GT Timberline Mountain Bike

I was also faced with the task of making some changes to my car’s audio system. I have an iPhone 5, but originally had a 4 when my system was upgraded. The iPhone cable was able to charge the phone and locally stored music fine. Streaming is hit or miss. Most the time when I go through my Spotify playlist it comes up Error 01. Researched the error and basically I could buy some expensive Bluetooth contraption that may or not work. So instead of using the phone data connection cable (which has two adaptors and disconnects when I nudge it the slightest bit) or buying a new head unit I decided to do a head unit -> RCA -> maniplug connection. Get the cables Wednesday for $~20, hopefully it all works…

One of my dream cars for a while has been the Infinity G series. They offer great performance and a convey a sense of affordable luxury.  Then I checked Fuelly and the mpg figures were abysmal. 20.6 on the high end with mixed driving and 19.4 on the long end. I currently do a lot of stop and go with A/C on full blast averaging 23. My next car should be hovering around 40 and offer some excitement. Thinking 2016 or something on my car undergoes a major meltdown, whichever happens sooner. Also a lofty goal but I’d love to be able to buy it entirely with cash. All speculation though…

Last but not least, life isn’t about just paying off debt. It’s about experiencing the world outside and spending time with people you enjoy, whether they be friends or family. For me too much extreme makes me feel like a slave to money. I literally count every penny and have felt stuck in the house an entire weekend because I didn’t want to spend $50 to do stuff. That’s not healthy and often leads to destructive behavior in the long run.

Looking Back & Forward

Couple of different things going on in my life right now.

1. Becoming close to a vegetarian. A lot of things about meat disgust me and more often than not I don’t feel good about myself after eating it. From a digestive standpoint it takes a long time for my body to break it down. I also could stand to lose some weight at 220lbs. I may not be 100% compliant, but I keep reading about all the people who feel better once they’ve integrated more vegetables into their lives. Many have lost weight in the process too. I figure why not become one of them. There are of course other reasons as well. We’ll see how I feel after a couple days.

2. Looking back at some of the people I used to interact with frequently on Long Island in the gay bar scene. Good people, but professionally it does not appear they are making any types of advances. One guy a year older than me works at a local hardware store and I speculate he isn’t making very much money. A girl who is 4 years younger is a cashier at a dollar store. Then my friend with a Bachelors in Business works in a McDonalds. Is it a sign of the times with employment on Long Island? Possibly, some refer to people my age as  part of a long generation. Finished high school after the dot.com bubble burst, started college right around the time 9/11 happened. Then when we completed college, the nation was at war and millions of private sector jobs were gone. Problems compounded on LI as many companies moved to NYC or packed up and went out of state.

I don’t know for a fact what my income would be had I not met my partner or moved, but my take home pay now is 80% more than it was 2011 in New York. Neighbors across the street from my parents are looking to sell their house because they can’t afford it anymore. My aunt on LI has been looking months for a job.

3. This month has been really good for my cash-flow situation. Multiple checks coming in:

  • Previous employer last two weeks of work
  • Previous employer vacation money
  • Previous employer bonus check in mail Saturday – I guess they were feeling generous or forgot about it.
  • First week of work at new employer
  • Next two weeks direct deposit.

 

This is the first time I’ve had a good chunk of cash sitting in my account. I plan to keep $3k in my checking at all times and have a significant portion of the rest go to Sallie Mae. This amount will vary based on other priorities at the moment. Did have one expense come up, for our AC unit to be repaired. Shelled out $240 for it, hadn’t been serviced in a year and water was leaking into the upstairs bathroom. I’ve been eating out more, but socializing more as well. It’s a tradeoff I’m trying to shift in the right direction. Threw out some food lately that hadn’t been used. About $20 worth and I know it sounds silly but I feel bad for wasting it.

Overheard on an exercise podcast that one of the best ways to boost testosterone is to get more sleep. This is an area I need to get better at. So going to bed before midnight instead of 1:30. I need to be more rested at my job, especially with so many meetings. Falling asleep is not the right answer.

Accelerated Payment . Month 16 Update

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This month I did double payments.

8/7: 453
8/4: 452.76

Brought the total balance down to 37,989.74. Psychologically I wanted to get this thing under 38k. At the beginning of the year in Month 9 I had 42057 in total debt. Still not backing down, $1k a month is the plan and once I have enough saved even more will be going toward the loan.

Have a trip coming to New York in September for a wedding. That alone was 307.78, my bf will be paying for luggage as we are taking a discounted airline that basically nickels and dimes you for every single thing.

Stopping my Roth IRA contributions for the moment. Invested a couple hundred in a highly volatile stock, which could end up being a brilliant decision down the road or could blow up miserably. 401k is taking off where that was, with the benefit of more diversification, less fees, matching if the company continues to offer it after 3 years and a higher monthly contribution of 274 vs 200.

More to come soon.. 🙂