Posted tagged ‘Money’

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 🙂

February Resolutions – 5/8 is Acceptable

February 28, 2010

PHEW! I almost forgot it was the end of the month!!

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

For the month of February, this is how I did —

  • Read at least 1 book: FAIL. I did not read a single page.

  

  • Work out at least 3 times a week – hopefully this will go better this month…: FAIL. I did not go once throughout the month of February.

  

  • Pay off another $1000 on my credit card *sigh*: TOTALLY PWNED. Thanks to that wonderful tax refund I got, I accomplished this and then some.

 

  • Put $1000 toward my student loans: SUCCESS! I just barely made it. Again, I’ve got to give props to the government for taking lots of my money and giving it all back to me.

 

  • Attend my calligraphy class each week – no skipping class!: DONE! I love that class 🙂

 

  • Love Dan (he requested that one…): ALWAYS & FOREVER

 

  • 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: TRIED, BUT HAD TO GO A DIFFERENT ROUTE. My health insurance held me back from that one. I went to Ulta instead and grabbed Dermalogica, which I have been following consistently. Sure, it’s not the same, but it is as close as I could get without dropping $400+ (no joke) on medication.

 

  • Do my laundry every week instead of waiting until I have nothing to wear: I DID IT TWICE THIS MONTH. SO NO.

 

So for those of you keeping track, I succeeded at 5 out of 8. 

I still struggle to believe that I didn’t go ONCE thoughout January. I mean.. I can believe that I didn’t go since I was there every morning when I rolled out of bed late and got to work barely at 9am, but… ugh. Disappointing.

I guess I can pride myself in that I don’t just “kind of” fail. I fail big and go home. *HIGH FIVE*

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!

January Resolutions – 3/7 is Pretty Bad

January 31, 2010

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

Today is the last day of January, and that means it’s time for me to reflect on the goals that I made for myself for the month

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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