Posted tagged ‘budget’

March Resolutions

March 1, 2010

Is it March already? This month I will be attempting to:

  • Work out twice a week (despite failing miserably since starting this thing)
  • Find out WHO IS STEALING MY EFFING NEWSPAPER. And I will. Mark my words.
  • Attend two volunteering events
  • Read 1 book (despite failing at this one, too)
  • 100% complete all of my calligrpahy homework.
  • Fully clean out my car.  Vacuum and everything.
  • Finish decorating the apartment
  • Get my total credit card balance below $1000. The finish line is in sight!!!!!

As a side note, these monthly resolutions are working significantly better than the standard yearly ones.  I feel like I am getting so much more done… and I am feeling so much more motivated to do it 🙂

Oh, To be Young and Stupid

February 16, 2010

Sallie Mae posted my monthly payments schedule.  And while I would love to whine and complain about what a soul sucking, money hungry leech she is, I can admit that I did this to myself. 

At the height of this repayment plan, I’ll be shelling out $630 a month for oh.. about.. EIGHT POINT FIVE YEARS. The other 11.5 will be lower monthly payments, but still enough to make me depressed.

Here’s to making stupid financial decisions.

Staying Alive Is Important

February 11, 2010

Right now I am stuck in that “post-graduation” but “pre-real job” limbo.  You know, the one where you’re no longer qualified to be on your parents’ health insurance, but you don’t have a job yet to provide you of your own.  That period of your life where, if you were to get some kind of life-threatening disease or in some terrifying accident, you’d basically be out of luck.  Where you’ve got so many student loans and credit card bills that hospital bills will pretty much destroy your life and make your current debt situation more hopeless than it appears to be right now.

I was on my parents insurance.  They had asked for proof that I was a student prior to my graduation date, so I just assumed I was a-okay. WRONG. I got the notice that I was booted off of the policy today. After I went to the doctor.  And after I dropped off my prescriptions at Walgreens to be filled.  And now said prescriptions are just sitting in Walgreens because they cost over $300 to break out of there.  $300 I’m not really in the mood to pay. $300 my non-existant insurance will not be… insurance-ing.

And so this evening and a little throughout the afternoon, I have been looking through websites trying to figure out what kind of stellar health coverage I can afford. Some health plans start around $80 a month.  Those deductibles are around $10000.  The ones that are around $100 to $120 a month have deductibles around $2000 – $3000.  They don’t really offer much as far as benefits, though.  It’s more, “Go to the doctor when you need to, but have fun paying all $3000 before we even think about kicking in to help you. Sucker”. 

I did just find a few with Medica that do offer what appear to be reasonable, and obviously the more I pay the more I get. I was actually looking to find their “accupuncture and massage” plan, but I can’t find it. I wonder how much that would run me, because I would be there every day.

Although I do have a job, health coverage is not offered, so I’m on my own until another job comes along.  And while I considered just going insurance-less, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. I appreciate going to the dermatoligist for skin problems and having the freedom to visit the dentist once in awhile for nice, clean teeth.  I don’t really want to let those things go.

Health insurance… a luxury that not everybody has.

February Resolutions

February 1, 2010

On December 31st, I declared my New Years Resolution:  Make monthly resolutions.

Since January is done and over with, it’s time that I make up my resolutions for the month of February!

  • Read at least 1 book
  • Work out at least 3 times a week – hopefully this will go better this month…
  • Pay off another $1000 on my credit card *sigh*
  • Put $1000 toward my student loans
  • Attend my calligraphy class each week – no skipping class!
  • Love Dan (he requested that one…)
  • Follow my dermatologist’s orders every day after my appointment on the 8th. In the past I have followed the doctor’s orders for about 4 days and then tapered off from there.
  • Do my laundry every week instead of waiting until I have nothing to wear

The payments are going to be tough, but hopefully I can commit myself.  Ideally, I will receive my tax refund before the end of the month so that I can use it to help me out a little.

Notice that snowboarding isn’t on the list this month.  I don’t want to commit myself to a huge number of things, so that will be my “side project”.

I’m ready for February!  Wish me luck!

Haggling – An Art for the Ages

January 29, 2010

I’ll say it: I can’t haggle.

“Gee, Heather. Why not?”

Well, how nice of you to ask!  The problem is that I tend to be too much of a pushover when it comes to things that I’m not sure I deserve.

To me, haggling takes a lot of confidence.  I can’t waltz into a department store and say, “Hey, I see this sweater is $50, but I think it’s only worth $35.  Give it to me for $35” without flinching.  Of course the salesperson is going to say “no”, but it’s a haggler’s job to tell them why they should.  I can’t tell them why they should if I don’t have a reason for it myself and so if there is any type of resistance I am down for the count. 

Don’t get me wrong, when I believe I am being unfairly treated, I am the first to say “HELL to the NO”, but I can’t make myself believe that I am deserving a better price than retailers are asking for (unless, of course, the item is on sale — then I’m on it like I was on the jar full of gummy bears sitting next to me earlier this evening… which incidentally I ate about 75 gummy bears just before dinner tonight and now I have a MONSTER headache).  How do you people do it?  How do you say “HEY! Give me a deal! Now! …. PLEASE!”

I was reading an article titled In Tough Economic Times, Shoppers Take Haggling to New Heights in the Washington Post.  In it, the journalist learns about haggling and tries it out in various places to see what kind of a deal he can get.  By the end of the article, you find out he saved $730 dollars in a week.  What the hell?  I want to save $730 in a week…

He haggles in Macy’s.  He haggles at Best Buy.  He haggles for flowers.  He haggles with Verizon.  And did you know people haggle professionally?!  Whatever deal they get with you, they will split with you!  Well… holy effing crap. 

Apparently the key is to look for an edge.  Why should you get those DVDs for $5 less?  Because your ShopSavvy app says the store down the street is selling it $5 cheaper.  What?  You think those reindeer should be 75% off instead of 50%?  Yes, because they have little scratches on them that nobody will ever see but me.  Coffee is not free, so why are you asking for a free coffee right now?  Because I have been coming here once a week every week for the last 7 months.  That’s why.

It’s interesting to read about somebody that is learning how to haggle because his thoughts are a lot like mine if I were in that situation.  More or less, all I would think after successfully getting a bargain would be, “I can’t believe that worked”. 

Click the link above for a link to the article, or click the link below.  Either way, it’s a pretty good read if you’re looking to save some dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.

The price tag on the smooth pair of Cole Haan loafers at Macy’s said $148. I considered that a fair opening bid. Standing across from the salesman and the cash register, I said, “Can you knock off 25 percent?

The salesman said, “Can’t do it.” But I pressed on: “I’ll get them on the Internet or at one of your competitors, so let’s just do this here.”

Salesman: “Geez. You’re like the second person who has tried to do this today.”

We stared at the shoe box. I liked what was inside. The loafers fit well, but they would feel even more comfortable with a discount.

Macy’s blinked first. “Ten percent off,” the salesman said. “That’s the best I can do.” I sensed an advantage and counteroffered: “Let’s do 20 percent.” I then sensed annoyance and settled for the 10 percent.

My first attempt as a haggler saved me almost 15 bucks and placed me at the center of “the biggest sea change of consumer behavior since the end of the Second World War,” as Nancy Koehn, a Harvard Business School retail historian, calls it. In a country that has long shunned haggling outside of car dealerships and mattress stores, my behavior may have once appeared unseemly, even crass. That is, until the Great Recession. Firms are desperate for revenue, Americans are feeling broke, and the aisles from Best Buy to Macy’s and even your neighborhood Giant — as well as the 1-800 numbers at Comcast and Verizon — have become venues for let’s-make-a-deal.

A recent Consumer Reports study found that 66 percent of American consumers had haggled at least once in the preceding six months, with an 88 percent ka-ching rate on gadgets, clothes, furniture and steak. “People like this,” Koehn said. “They are not going to go back to giving their money away. Why would they?”

The recession merely popped the lid off a retailing shift that has been brewing for a decade. EBay gave millions of consumers dealmaking training wheels (top bid for a “Goonies” DVD: $3.50). The Internet offers instant pricing data (do a Google search on “Lucky jeans and deal and DC”). And don’t forget Priceline, which lets consumers name their price for flights, hotels and rental cars (thank you, William Shatner).

For consumers like me who have spent decades shopping at full retail, getting a deal on previously no-deal items is liberating and invigorating, as I found out during a recent week I spent haggling. At first, my wife and friends asked me if I was crazy, but when I reported saving $3 on steak at Giant and $50 a month on our Verizon bill, they asked only one thing: How?

Full Article –>

Read the full article on the Washington Post website.  In Tough Times, Shoppers Take Hagglers to New Heights written by Michael S. Rosenwald, Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Addiction to Appearance

January 26, 2010

It takes me about an hour to get ready every morning.  My morning routine goes something like this:

  1. Take the dog out to do her business (and in the winter that requires about 5 minutes of putting on/taking off sweatpants, sweatshirts, boots, and coats (one for me, one for the dog))
  2. Take a shower
  3. Put product in my hair and scrunch it until most of the water is out
  4. Blow dry my hair
  5. Moisturize – especially in the winter
  6. Get dressed (it takes me forever to figure out what to wear)
  7. Put on makeup
  8. Scrunch hair again to get rid of any crispy curls
  9. Wander around my apartment to gather everything I need
  10. Mirror check to fix anything that doesn’t look quite right
  11. Leave

And this morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I was thinking about all of that time I spend in the bathroom getting ready for my day.  One hour a day.  That’s seven hours a week.  That’s about 28 hours a month (already more than an entire day gone!)  Three hundred thirty-six hours a year – or fourteen days – or two entire weeks.  Wow.  If I lived for 60 more years, over two of those years will be spent in the bathroom drying my hair, putting on makeup, and getting dressed.  It will take me over two years to get ready for the other 58 years of my life.  That, my friends, is a lot of time.

And while I would like to sit here and announce to you that I am changing my ways and vowing to never spend an entire hour in the bathroom ever again, I am not able to.  I can’t say that I won’t spend ten minutes trying to get my hair just right.  I know I will never be able to choose the perfect outfit on the first try every day for three days, let alone a week.  With all of these lipstick colors, I can’t guarantee that the first one I choose will be complimentary to my skin tone and the colors that I am wearing.  And even though I know that I am wasting an entire hour of my day just getting ready to go shopping or putz around the apartment, I don’t necessarily want to change that.

When I look good, I feel good.  I’m more productive with my time.  I’m more sociable.  I’m friendlier.  I feel smarter.  A lot of the time, my happiness is directly affected by my outward appearance.  And when I am unhappy with myself or the way that my life is going, I cheer myself up in the beauty aisles at Walgreens.  I buy makeup, lotions, conditioners, and any beauty supply that I can get my hands on and believe that I might need one day.  If you were to open up the cabinet beneath my bathroom sink, you would see the results of these splurges fall out onto the floor because the cabinet can barely contain them.

So where did this need for beauty in a bottle come from?  Today’s magazines, newspapers, and blogs emphasize the importance of natural beauty.  Magazine covers are being chastised for photoshopping their covers – I even posted a video showing how our definition of beauty is the direct result of these maneuvers.  Newer, more natural models are making their debut in advertisements.  And yet here I am, feeling the need to perfect the way that I look before leaving my apartment just to take my dog on a walk.  Why is that?

And the funny thing is that you can tell how I am feeling about myself that day by seeing the amount of makeup caked onto my face.  Typically I am on the lighter side, but sometimes (when I’m feeling depressed or unhappy) it’s as if you can’t see a hint of real skin underneath all of that foundation.  And although I know that wearing all of that makeup is unnatural, I can’t help myself.  To take it off would leave me unhappier than with it on.  Because the thing is, no matter what is going on around me or what kind of situation I find myself in, I can at least control the way that I look.  Because to look beautiful in a crappy world, even if that beauty is artificial, is better than facing it looking hum-drum.

Perhaps the saddest part of this is that I know I am not the only woman in the world with this complex.  There are millions of us that choose to drop hundreds of dollars on beauty products that we will only use once.  Others might choose to physically harm themselves.  Others might starve themselves to achieve that perfect weight.  Others might stay in abusive relationships.  On second thought, maybe I should consider myself lucky that this is my addiction because, lets face it, it could be far worse.

Lately I have found myself a little more confident with my “natural” face since I have sworn one day a week to not using anything at all, but I still feel stares.  I still feel less respected.  I still feel like other people have decided that I am not worth their time.  And on days when I am feeling low, my usual “head up” posture turns into a slumped back with my eyes to the ground.  And of course it’s foolish and of course it’s nonsense, but it is something that I struggle with anyway. 

I would like to think that we all have our own comfort blankets that we cling to.  It helps me to know that everybody needs to fit a certain mold when they are feeling down so that they can feel better about themselves.  It could be anything — dressing great, laughing a little louder to make up for it, or feeling the need to prove yourself through your ideas.  You know… something that gives status so that we know we’re not just dirt on the ground. 

Is anybody willing to share with me theirs?

2009 has been a learning experience

December 30, 2009

So here we go.. a list of 2009 things that I have learned throughout 2009!!

Just kidding… 2009 is a little much.  Instead, I will take out the 0’s and reduce the list to 29 things I have learned throughout the year.

(more…)