Suze Orman has an interactive segment on her weekly television show called "Can I Afford It?", in which she compares the cost of a product, service or trip that a viewer would like to purchase to the viewer's net income, personal and emergency savings accounts, retirement investments, mortgage, education and car loan debt, and any other pertinent financial information the viewer would like to share on national television. And then Suze tells you (without judgment, solely based on the numbers) whether or not you can afford it. Even though it can often be a Financial Debbie Downer and goes against the grain of spontaneity and reckless abandonment in which "you only live once," it's my favorite segment on Suze's show - the overall take-away being that just because you might have the money for something, that does not mean you can necessarily afford to have or do it.
I could have bought four pairs of Christian Louboutins and a pair of Manolo Blahniks for the amount of money I dropped in R&A Cycles on Saturday. Yet I type that sentence as if I have ever had the wherewithal to confidently stroll out of Barneys, Bergdorfs or Bloomies swinging a shopping bag with a pair of $500+ shoes. I'd like to assume that Suze would give me her coveted stamp of approval since the money I'm spending on the transcontinental cycling tour is that which I've earned at job #2, supplemental income that I would otherwise not have sought had I never conceived this 30th-year goal. And I'd like to believe that she'd be satisfied with the 401(k), Roth IRA and personal savings that I've worked very hard to accumulate by age 30 - and to which I have continued to allocate monthly contributions from my primary income even as I prepare for my trip.
It took me awhile to truly embrace the psychological force necessary to save money. It became even more challenging when I moved to New York City, where the constantly-evolving fashion trends are so in your face, fueling the desires of even the most remotely fashion-conscious New Yorker to embody the city's spirit of mobile art. Not to mention the personal New York transplant appeal of the urban makeover from suburban gal to metropolitan fashionista. I finally decided to take the adrenaline high associated with donning the latest trends and apply it to the act of transferring money to my savings and investments. And I try to maintain that high by glancing at my financial portfolio a few times a week rather than immersing myself in the feeling of my reflection decked out in Chanel.
After all, 30 years from now, no one will remember what I wore on a random Wednesday in 2010, but if I live to see the golden years, I'll be able to afford to use "summer" as a verb. It's a conscious decision that every middle-income American has to make for themselves and what led me to eventually choose classic fashion over trends, savings and investments over frequent brunches and happy hours, and a second job to fund @TweetByBike.
... And ultimately prompted me to swipe my American Express Blue Cash* credit card at R&A Cycles for $2,790.24 on Saturday, January 30 (*a card I highly recommend for the cash back earnings if you have the financial self-control that enables you to regularly pay your monthly balance in-full; otherwise, stick to straight cash). Of course, I was nearly a month behind my self-imposed timeline to purchase a bicycle, and I've learned that purchasing the cycling gear is going to take more than one trip to a sporting goods store.
The upside: My Trek Madone 5.0, which retailed in 2007 for $2799.99, was on sale for $1895.00.
The downside: I severely under-estimated how much money I was going to need for cycling gear.
In the official estimated budget, I had accounted for the following:
14) Cycling gear (e.g. helmet, attire, small cycling back pack, miscellaneous equipment): $500
15) Several changes of cycling jerseys, shorts, pants: $500
16) Athletic undergarments, socks, other miscellaneous attire: $100
I'll wait for any seasoned cyclists, who might be perusing this blog, to stop laughing before I continue ...
[Pause here until laughter subsides]
Ahem. As I was saying, the most recent acquisitions, aside from my bicycle (which exceeded my original maximum estimate by $395), and the first purchases toward my cycling trip include:
3T ARX Team Stem (longer head tube as advised by R&A Cycle's pro bicycle fitter): $81.00
Shimano XT M770 Clipless Pedals: $124.99
Shimano SH-M161G Shoes: $139.95
Bell Array Road Helmet: $100.00
Pearl Izumi '09 Women's P.R.O. Shorts: $130.00
Pearl Izumi Women's AmFIB Tights (can be worn over the padded P.R.O. shorts): $99.00
I have been learning the reason behind each purchase in order to better understand the sport of cycling, as well as validate the expenses to my distressed wallet. And I eventually plan to post my comprehensive shopping list and the rationale for each purchase on this blog. Writing and talking it all out definitely helps me to psychologically process the rapidly declining balance in my cycling fund.
But now, without further ado, I'd like to unveil the first cell phone picture taken of my road bicycle in its new home, where it currently resides adjacent the fireplace in my bedroom. In the grand tradition of Carrie Bradshaw - the ultimate, fictional New York fashionista - who defies Suze Orman's pecuniary preachings, living an extravagant life on modest means in cramped Manhattan digs: She keeps sweaters in her stove; I keep reasonably-priced shoes in my fireplace ... and I lean a Trek bicycle on it.