$3279.93 old total
$100.00 kitchen table and chairs
$100.00 washer/ dryer
$40 reel lawn mower
$20 area rug
I'm still alive! I just need about 4 more hours in the day in order to get everything done.
I told Mr. Bean I've been too busy spending money to post!
Although I've been doing my share of spending, I've also been doing some selling of things that either don't work in our new place or were sold just as we moved but I hadn't added to the tally yet.
The money from the sales is helping to off set some of the moving expenses and purchases for the new place. We didn't really buy much for the house after we got married in 2004 since we were starting grad school, so we're upgrading some of our ramshackle furniture.
The largest of the purchases was a new-to-me dining room table, chairs and sideboard off Craig's List for $1000. The furniture is from Crate and Barrel and according to the seller cost over $4000 in 2002. The seller was asking $1200, but took my offer of $1000. It looks great in our new place and I can envision this being our dining set for the rest of our lives. I suffered from some serious sticker shock once I started looking at new furniture. Used is definitely the way to go. Not only is it cheaper, but it also allows you to see how a piece wears after a few years of use.
The next thing we're looking for is lamps and night tables. Anyone selling anything? :-)
Viewing the 'spending' Category
$2765.93 old total
$3.00 PineCone surveys
I drove down to see Mr. Bean this weekend and to look for a new apartment for the two us in his area.
Oi Vey! Sticker shock!!
Would we like to live in a dark, damp basement for $1600/ month? No, not really! We saw about 15 places and put an application in for one. Unfortunately, I think there were other applications ahead of us so I'm not holding my breath.
On the upside, I was able to take someone with me and get $50 in gas money for the round trip ride. We also got a better understanding of what our money will and will not get us. If our application on the one place isn't successful, we're going to start looking into some condo units that aren't selling and are going up for rent. W
e looked at one and I must say that although the location was a little far from public transportation, the unit was beautiful!
It pays to review your receipts and purchases! I've had two overcharge incidents already this week.
I recently bought 2 pairs of running shoes online. My e-receipt was for $119.15 but my credit card was charged $154.35. I emailed customer service and they said the problem would be fixed-- you better believe I'm going to watch my statement to make sure it is! That's a $35 difference!
We pre-bought heating oil at $2.699 / gal, but the invoice following the latest delivery was at $2.711/ gal. When all is said and done, I was only overcharged a few dollars, but I'm going to call and get it corrected. It's not right, and if they're doing it to me, I wonder if they are making this "mistake" with all the pre-buy customers!
Interestingly, I shredded a bunch of old receipts from a few years ago earlier this evening, including our pre-buy oil receipt from August 2004 when we paid 1.499/ gal!
I most likely wouldn't have caught either of these mistakes prior to my financial conversion. Ahh, the lessons learned!
Well, the splurge was not complete! I went ot the Mall this afternoon to return some clothes my mother gave Mr. Bean for Xmas. He said I could use the refund money to get something for myself since I was doing the return. So, I spent the return money (~$20) and then some. Good golly the stuff was CHEAP-- the prices were what I would expect at the end of season, although we still have a good 2-3 months left of winter in my part of the country. I guess that's what happens when consumer spending declines. I couldn't resist a few more items to spice up my wardrobe.
Lest anyone worry I've fallen off my rocker, I can afford these little splurge. I've already contributed $900 to my 2008 Roth. But, I still feel a little uneasy about the spending. Even though I think I'm doing OK with saving, there's this little voice in the back of my head saying: "Save more! Don't rationalize your wastefulness!"
Since I've been using Quicken for over a year now to track all my expenditures, I think it would behoove me to go back and analyze it a little closer. By doing so, hopefully I'll come to ease with these occasional splurges or be able to somehow quantify how much of a splurge will still be responsible.
$211.93 old total
I got paid for the house sitting I did last week. House sitting involves living/sleeping at the house and taking care of the dog, mail, trash etc. The home is ~10 miles from where I live, so I used much more fuel than I typically do in a given week, but it's still a good gig to have.
I wrote a lengthy entry last night about the money I've spent in the beauty/fashion care department in the last week (new jeans, highlights etc), but lost the entry before it was published. Hopefully I'll find the time to re-write it. The post basically told the tale of woe that I've been feeling really frumpy as of late. It's probably not coincidental that I also turned 30 this week. To be honest, I'm happy with my size and shape, I just don't feel like I have the right clothes or take the time to look a little better. I think with turning 3-0 I came to realize I might as well enjoy what I have because it won't be around forever.
Interestingly, http://likemerchantships.blogspot.com/2008/01/fashion-crisis... I read have recently expressed http://www.myopenwallet.net/2008/01/working-on-2008-budget.h.... I took a plunge and got highlights last week--but held onto my frugal ways and had them done at the beauty school. I couldn't be happier! They look great and they cost only $30! I wouldn't go to an inexpensive chain salon like Super Cuts for highlights, however. Why? The stylists at the chains are typically inexperienced and they are pressed for time. The beauty school stylists can take all the time they need (note: don't make an appointment at the beauty school if YOU have someplace to be!), and they have an experienced instructor guiding them.
The money saved on the highlights will help to offset the the price of the designer jeans I also splurged for :-) People say having one great pair of jeans is better than 8 pair of ill-fitting jeans. Well, I have 8 pair of ill-fitting jeans, so and the verdict is still out on this purchase. I will say their fit is definitely better, and the store altered the length for no extra cost. I had been contemplating taking the designer denim splurge for some time, but http://www.myopenwallet.net/2008/01/working-on-2008-budget.h... helped remind me of this pressing priority! The jeans were originally $175, but on sale for $79.50. Yikes! Frugal? Heck no! But my butt looks good!
Do you set a spending limit for Christmas? I've thought about it, but I never have. I imagine it might be more of an issue when we have kids and it can be easy to go overboard.
I'm almost done with my shopping, and I was strating to feel a little anxious/guilty that I'd spent too much-- especially given the mattress we purchased this month a a plane ticket I bought to get together with my high school friends in February to celebrate turning 30 together.
A quick analysis in Quicken shows I've spent just under $450 of my own money. I'm unsure how much has been put on our joint credit card since Mr. Bean tracks that. I imagine it's somewhere around $100? We put family gifts on our joint credit card, but oftentimes I'm buying stuff for myself or a gift for a friend at the same time and don't bother to divvy up the purchases. I'm comfortable with these numbers, but knowing what they are will (hopefully) motivate me to cool the spending for the rest of the month!
After spending the past 3.5 years sleeping on my husband's 10 year old futon, the Bean's are upgrading to a bona fide bed! Alleluia!
Here are some main points I learned in the process:
1. Mattress prices are negotiable.
Do not pay the sticker price, nor the price that the salesperson says is the "sale" price. Negotiate. If he/ she will not go down in price, head elsewhere. I was getting initial price quotes of $599 and $699 on the exact same mattress at the exact same store chain in retail outlets less than 4 miles apart. When I asked the salesman at the $699 store if it included the frame and he said "no", I realized he thought he could take me. I said thank you and headed for the door.
2. Different stores sell the exact same mattresses using different names.
This is to confuse you and make it harder to comparison shop. Take careful note of the mattress you like so that you can compare it with those at other stores. For example, Simmons offers three lines of mattresses. The lowest is "Classic". A Simmons Classic mattress at Mattress Warehouse is probably the same as the Simmons Classic mattress at Mattress Discounters. Make note of the details and compare. When I tried to tell a salesperson at one mattress chain that I had been offered a better price on the same mattress at a competitor, he asked me the name of the competitor's mattress and then proceeded to pull out a sheet from his desk that named the names of all the mattresses sold at their store with the names of comparable mattresses at other store. Oh how I would have loved to get my hot little hands on that sheet! Alas, I couldn't steal it from him, but it confirmed what I thought was true.
3. Sales at mattress stores are fake.
Don't be pressured to buy something because it's on sale. Mattresses are never truly on sale. You can get the same price weeks later.
4. Ask the sales person to write down the name of the mattress you like on a business card with the price.
Not only will this help you keep the mattresses and their silly names straight, you can also use this as a quote to negotiate with other chains.
5. The sales people will try to keep you away from all mattresses priced under $1000.
When we first started shopping, I thought mattresses under $1000 didn't exist. Then I realized we were just constantly being steered away from them. I had one salesman tell me the mattresses lined up against the back of the store (where the less expensive mattresses were displayed) were only for "children and guest rooms". Huh? So, would it be illegal me to purchase one for my room? I guess so! If you're shy and want to at least test a less expensive mattress, tell them you're shopping for a spare room. Generally speaking, the farther back in the store you go, the less expensive the mattresses will be.
6. If you need a frame, don't get ripped off.
You can order a Queen sized bed frame from WalMart.com for ~$45 and have it shipped free to a store. Don't pay $80+ for a frame at a mattress retailer.
We ended up buying the Simmons Palm Cove Queen Size mattress, box spring and frame from Mattress Warehouse for $550 with free delivery. The sticker price was $699 + $59 for frame. Interesting, in the city where Mr. Bean lives, the identical matress at the same retail chain had a sticker price of $899. Yowsers!
Back in my neck of the woods, the salesman initially he said the best price he could give me was $640 + cost of frame, but when I said his competitor offered $599 and I had a card to prove it, the price dropped to $550 and included a frame.
I can't wait to sleep in my new bed!
More great mattress buying tips are available at MyMoneyBlog http://www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2007/05/my-attempts-at-f... and http://www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2007/06/compilation-of-f.... Make certain to read the comments-- I learned a lot from them!
I have been offered my first choice post-doc Fellowship! I broke from my normal frugal mindset had am having a thank you floral arrangement delivered to my thesis adviser's office tomorrow. Of course, I've already sent her a thoughtful letter expressing my gratitude. I'm sure she will appreciate the arrangement, but I imagine the letter probably holds more meaning. Regardless, I felt like a gift was in order.
She wrote me a great letter of recommendation and went out of her way to prepare me for the interview. In fact, the arrangement seems so minor in comparison to the appreciation I feel.
Grad school has been tumultuous, but it seems like the things that matter are falling into place.
My vacation in Santa Monica was terrific! It was a perfect blend of site seeing and relaxing.
As we hoped, we made it the entire week without renting a car. Granted, we were staying in pedestrian friendly Santa Monica, but we ventured to Hollywood, downtown LA, and UCLA all by bus or Metro. I’m so glad we braved the public transportation, because it great— and I think much of Los Angeles' bad reputation for public transportation comes from people who have never tried it. Don't get me wrong- for a city of its size, LA should have a better system, but what's there is pretty good-- but also under utilized.
I used the http://www.mta.net/default.asp to plan our routes. Not only did we avoid the cost of renting a car, gasoline, and parking, but we were able to sit back and enjoy the sites and let someone else worry about the traffic and directions.
Friday was our first full day and also the day we did the majority of site-seeing. A few weeks before the trip I had requested tickets to be an audience member on the Dr. Phil show. I’m not a huge Dr. Phil fan, but we thought it would be an interesting experience to be on the set of a television show. We each paid $5 for all-Day MTA pass (which allowed us unlimited rides on the LA buses and Metro until 3am—typically each bus ride is $1.25 and each Metro ride is $2.50). We caught a bus just steps away from our hotel in Santa Monica to ~ 5 blocks from the Dr. Phil studio in Hollywood. The trip was ~11 miles and took approximately 45 minutes.
Being an audience member is a fun experience. Although we appeared only briefly on camera, it’s thrilling experience just to be in the audience. The topic was etiquette— http://www.drphil.com/shows/show/933 . We had two nice surprises: all audience members received a free copy of Peggy Post’s book http://www.amazon.com/Excuse-Me-But-Was-Next/dp/0060889160, but the big surprise was that every audience member received a free round trip ticket on Virgin American airlines! Audience members don’t know the show’s topic until seated on the set, nor do you know if there are any surprises, so needless to say, we were thrilled!
After Dr. Phil, we caught the bus and rode about 1 mile to the corner of Hollywood and Vine St. and continued to walk down Hollywood Avenue to take in the traditional Hollywood sites, including the Kodak Theater and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. From there, we hopped on the nearly empty Metro Red Line and rode into downtown Los Angeles. From there, took it on foot and saw Frank Gehry’s http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Wa..., http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=usbanktower-losangeles-..., and bought some fruit to bring back to our hotel from the http://www.grandcentralsquare.com/ (and I’ll add that I paid only $2 for 4 nectarines and big bunch of grapes)! We missed the free tours of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but if you're a visitor to LA try to get there before 2pm and take one. We thought we could ride the Santa Monica Express bus back to our hotel using our MTA Day passes, but it turned out that the Santa Monica buses were exempt, so we paid $1.25 to ride the freeway express bus from downtown LA to Santa Monica. We sat on the air conditioned bus and cruised down the freeway for some 10 miles until we were back in Santa Monica. The Friday rush hour trip took about 50 minutes. As it turns out, having ridden the MTA bus twice and the Metro once, we broke even with our day passes, but at least we were saved the hassle of trying to get money out and paying fare for each ride. We were exhausted by the end of the day, but our only expense was on transportation, lunch, and some fruit at the market. Had we been driving, we would have been majorly frazzled and had a lot less cash in our wallets due to the exorbitant parking costs.
I’ll highlight some of our other feats later this week. For now, I’ll leave you with a photo:
I'm off to Santa Monica for a week of some much needed R&R and quality time with my husband.
Los Angeles isn't exactly known for being a budget-friendly place, so I'll be interested to report back on my experience of living it up while living on a budget.
Here are a few things that I've done already to help minimize the expense:
1.) We're combining business with pleasure. The primary reason for the trip is for Mr. Bean to attend a work meeting. His airfare is covered, as are 5 nights in the hotel. We are staying 7 nights, but we were able to get the "corporate" hotel rate for the extra 2 nights. Also, our cab to and from LAX are covered. The cab normally costs $50 each way!
2.) We're not planning to rent a car. Yes, I know this is ambitous since LA isn't exactly known for having marvelous public transportation. Although a car rental for the week was reasonably priced at ~$150, parking at the hotel was $35 / day. Yikes! I was able to use the http://www.mta.net/default.asp to figure out how to take public buses to Hollywood and the other tourist attractions we're interested in seeing. It also helps that we are both content to spend time just enjoying the lovely http://www.santamonica.com/index.php/beach.html rather than trying to travel all over Orange County.
3.) We're taking advantage of the of one of LA's best free events: a television show taping. We're going to be audience members on the Dr. Phil show! All I had to do to get tickets was fill out a simple form on his web page. In my opinion, the quality of topics covered by Dr. Phil has really declined in the past few years. I expect the show will be a hoot!
4.)I used my coupons to stock up on suitcase friendly snacks. I got all of the following for $3.50. I'm also packing a lunch for our 6+ hour plane ride.
Of course, we'll also do our fair share of eating out and splurging to make this a memorable trip. I've already paid $75 for a private surf lesson. I can't wait!
That's what frugality is all about for me-- saving on things that don't mean much so you can take advantage of the opportunities that do!
I'm planning to join Mr. Bean on his next business trip to LA in September. He's planning on taking a direct flight from Dulles to LAX. I'm going to fly from my podunk little town to Dulles and then connect to the same flight as his so we can fly together. I'm not buying 2 separate tickets- it's all the same carrier and just connects through Dulles. Interestingly, as the prices stand today, the entire cost of my round trip flight is $69 cheaper than his direct flight- even though we'll be riding together on my final leg and my trip has more miles.
Who would have guessed?
Check out this clip of Demetri Martin from the Daily Show taking about credit cards posted on
http://www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2007/06/the-daily-shows-.... Hysterical. I love it.
Today's my last day teaching a 100-level course in the Summer Session (No fear though, I stat up again with the second summer session in a week).
So, in honor college kids everywhere, check this out.