Let’s Talk Money. 10 Ways to Make it Count.

I am a self-made woman. Or at least I’d like to think so. My parents paid for very specific things growing up and I paid for everything else. My parents paid for the private high school I went to (not a boarding school, just a normal private parochial school) and they paid for things that I needed. Apparently, it was necessary for me to have a TV in my room or the latest i-anything or those amazing new shoes I had to have-a very disappointing idea to a teenage kid. But I did need uniforms and food to eat at dinner time and they paid for that. That was pretty much the extent of my parent’s financial responsibility to me. Ever since I was able to babysit (mother’s helper at age 10 to nannying as a teenager) and I was old enough to work a legit job, my parents carefully backed off the money pump. As a kid, I paid for my school books (in HS we had to buy our own books, too), my car insurance, my clothes, my cell phone, and anything else I wanted. Nothing changed in college, though occasionally they would send me back to school with a grocery trip on them (thanks guys!). I paid for school, books, and everything else I’ve already mentioned. I’m not complaining, I am just trying to give you a background.

Skip ahead a few years. I am currently a fresh 26, I have no credit card debt, and I only have my mortgage, a car payment, and student loans as my debt. I paid for a good chunk of my wedding (again, thanks guys for picking up the remainder!) and I own a bunch of nice things. Also a little background: I bought a house and got married while my husband made 45k a year and I was bringing home a mere 12.50 (then got a raise to 13.50!) an hour at my full time job. And we STILL got out of debt and got ourselves in control. Totally do-able.

I know everyone is different, but here is what has worked for me. This whole not being broke thing? YOU can do it.

  1. Don’t live above your means. Just starting out, keeping up with the Joneses is not only stupid, it shouldn’t even be an option. Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford just to look “cool” because you’re in the real world now and no one gives a shit about you.
  2. Pay your bills on time. I can understand if the reason you aren’t paying your bills is you don’t actually have the money (in this case call the company and see if there is something you can work out) but if you forget? Come on! Most companies charge upward of $35 for a late fee… that is a pair of shoes, ladies! Set a reminder on your phone, sticky note on the calendar, or sign up for automatic payment so you don’t get slapped with these. I have any recurring bill on automatic payment and it is so nice not to have to worry about that! (plus you save in stamps!)
  3. Credit cards aren’t the problem, you are. I think credit cards give people the false sense that they should buy something just because they can. Just because I can eat a pound of candy doesn’t mean I should! Same principle.
  4. Borrow from yourself. I have a couple of different savings accounts. I have my “Oh Shit Account” (literally-that is what it is called) and my “Big Girl Savings”. Oh Shit is for emergencies and Big Girl is for money that I may need in the future. Instead of using my credit card to buy a new fridge and racking up interest, I will use the credit card (for points or rewards) and pay it off in a month or within a few months from this account. That way I get my rewards and I don’t have to worry about a credit card payment. I just pay back the account instead, making the interest charges from the bank non-existent.
  5. Coupon clipping isn’t crazy. Over the summer, I went out to eat with my sister and a new boyfriend at the time. Now, the new boyfriend wouldn’t be caught dead using coupons and even though I printed some coupons off for this place, he refused to use them. Needless to say, all he had to do was handover a piece of paper (which the restaurant would gladly accept) and he would have gotten $30.00 off the bill. Don’t be that guy.
  6. Upromise. Upromise is an awesome website. So far this year I have saved almost $300.00! All you have to do is log on and use that as a home base to go to the website you were going to buy something off of to begin with. Most stores give you 5% back towards your student loan or you can get a check if you don’t have a loan through Sallie Mae. I have one and $300 is $300! Ebates works similarly and they automatically send you a check in the mail. Most stores give more on Upromise, but I check beforehand and just go through the website with more cash back.
  7. Sign up for rewards. I used to never give out my personal email to stores but I do it all the time. If you don’t like this idea, make up a new email account specifically for stores so you can get their emails. They send you deals, coupons, and sometimes promotional gifts just for signing up. Then you can plan to go and get that sweater you’ve been eyeing from Express on SALE because you know when the sale is going to be and you don’t just happen upon a sale… it isn’t like the lottery. You don’t just win a sale!
  8. Stack those savings. My sister wanted a new (expensive) camera for her photography business. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind going through my Upromise. She used her credit card for the miles, I went through Upromise, and signed into my Best Buy rewards program. The outcome? Miles for her, $80 towards my student loan, and $30 from Best Buy. Um. Thanks?? ($110 FREE money!!)
  9. Every little bit counts: save save save! I automatically save about 30% of my paycheck monthly into savings. However, I split it up into smaller increments ($50 is a lot easier to swallow at a time than $270) and I have it going into separate savings (see Big Girl and Oh Shit accounts). This is taken out weekly so I don’t even miss it. I have saved a LOT of money this year. Down payment on our next home? I think so!
  10. Gift Card Granny that shit! In case you aren’t familiar with it, Giftcardgranny.com is a website that is like a central hub for a bunch of companies that buy and sell gift cards. You can get cards from anywhere between 2%-28% (Walmart and Michael’s respectively) to just about any store you could imagine. They can send you actual cards in the mail (usually free shipping) or an eCode almost immediately to your computer. I use these when I know I am going to buy something. Plus with gift cards it isn’t a promo code so you can use this saving on top of your 20% off or whatever you get sent to you in your email 😉

Let the savings begin!! Remember, every little bit counts so keep this up and you could be like me. This year I have literally saved THOUSANDS. Stay tuned for the snowball effect method I have been using to get to get us out of debt quicker!

Advertisements

Tell Us How You Really Feel or Dear Judges Part II

https://i0.wp.com/www.glassdoor.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/interview22.jpg

After re-reading my last post, I just decided it would be lovely to give final answers to all the strange, quirky, and occasional inappropriate questions I’ve been asked in the past. Here is a little Q&A for anyone who may be interested. Here are questions I’ve been asked and the answers I wish I could have given or would give now.

“If you could be any color what would it be and how would you describe it to a blind person?”

Original answer went something like this “I would be the color hot pink because I am very enthusiastic and ambitious. I would explain to a blind person that the color is very warm, bright, and fun”.

What I was actually thinking: “Has this person been blind their whole life? Have they seen color before? Because I remember hearing that people who become blind later in life can totally see color in their mind’s eye so if they have seen color, I really don’t think I need to explain that to them.”

OR “Black. Like my soul.”

“If you were given a million dollars right now and had 24 hours to spend it, what would you spend it on?”

Listen, $1,000,000 won’t buy shit nowadays. I’d invest in some money market accounts, buy a franchise, and make that money work for me. No, there is no way in hell I’d donate it all to “my favorite” charity. What good is money if it is gone rather than working for you? Later on down the road I’d totally donate to a 503(c) charity, you betcha!

“If you wrote your autobiography, what title would you give it?”

This Bitch is the Shit: Short stories on being Modest

“If you could be born again, would you prefer to be born as a man or a woman?”

A guy. I’ve had penis envy for years and would love to just be a dude for one day. I’d drink a ton of beer, get both arms tatted with some sick sleeves, shoot guns, parade around in my boxers with no shirt on, I’d smoke cigars, have giant bonfires, drive a rusted enormous truck, and grow the most amazing beard the world has ever seen-it would put ZZ Top to shame.

“If you could have lunch with any person living or dead, who would it be?”

My answer to this still remains the same: Freddie Mercury. He was the so completing interesting and I am in love with Queen, so it would be the most epic lunch ever.

“Do you have any regrets? If so what are they?”

Of course I do! Dan, Tim, Chris, Eric, Jonathan, Billy…

“If you were a fruit, what kind would you be?”

I would be a pineapple because they are my favorite. Simple as that. Not because they have any sort of health benefits or are unique or textured a certain way or grow a certain way. There is no insinuation here. I. Like. Pineapples.

On the same note:

“If you were a vegetable, what kind would you be?”

Veggies suck and are boring, so I wouldn’t be a vegetable.

“If you were to ever experience a disaster, what would it be and why?”

Well, we are all forced to hear about Kim and Kanye right now, so does that count? Also, I wouldn’t choose to experience a disaster. What kind of asinine question is this? If I had to choose something bad to happen, I would find myself a nice sturdy and 100% secure shelter and then choose a tornado, you idiot.

“If you were an ice cream cone, what flavor would you be?”

How is this at all revealing to someone’s inner self? Unless you get someone with a cutesy answer or someone willing to display their insanity “Something full of nuts because I’m a nut!” just doesn’t work for me. I suppose I would choose “Death by Chocolate” because that is the only thing that should happen to this question… it should die.

So there you have it. Clearly, some things are better left unsaid but it does feel a bit nicer letting your true feelings out.

SUCCESS!! or Dear Judges

20131025-110854.jpg

Back in my glory days of ductaping my boobs, gluing my bathing suit to my ass, and eating half bags of carrots when coming back from the bar rather than the tantalizing pizza being inhaled by my friends, I was asked a lot of weird questions. Pageantry will do that to you. The interview process was standard-basically 10 minutes or so of being grilled with any question the judges could muster up. Some were aimed to get to know you, some were aimed to see how creatively you could answer, and some were aimed to really throw you off. I’ve had a plethora of strange ones that included (and are certainly not limited to) “If you were to be a color, what would it be and how would you describe that to a blind person?” and “What would be on page 25 of your autobiography?” Pretty standard, actually. Other times you could get some questions with more substance. “What is the biggest challenge our youth face today?” or “Do you think that illegal immigrants should be allowed the same benefits as citizens?”

One question I got quite often was “How do you define success?”. Well, while I’ve always stood by the fact that success is different to each person. I was driving this past week contemplating life (I mean, what else do YOU do while driving??) and I was thinking “Aha! I’ve got it! Too bad I’m not competing anymore *nostalgic sigh*”.
To all of my past judges who have asked this: Here is my final answer.

Success is different to everyone. My success of being a professional may not match up to the woman down the street being able to walk again on her own after a motorcycle accident, or the kid who hasn’t been able to spell something correctly for weeks and finally gets that “A” on the spelling test. Success is a goal someone has for themselves and meeting or surpassing that goal. The meaning of success is to reach that overall goal. To me, my main goal in life is to be happy. I will always be successful if I am happy no matter my place in life. Right now I want to have a career and a solid marriage and a happy home. I have those things and I feel successful.

So, SUCCESS! I’ve got it 😉

Just For Today

Last night was a pretty crazy night at my house. Or I should say in front of my house. After getting an app and a drink with a close relative of mine, she went completely berserk on the way home to drop me off over seemingly nothing and sparked a little tiff with my neighbors. She came flying into my driveway, slammed the car in park, and laid on the horn (which I would apologize for the noise). She then proceeded to run inside to get my husband to “get his wife out” of her car. I am fairly used to this behavior as she has had some traumatic events in the past and suffers from PTSD. I don’t understand enough about the disease to really get it but this morning, I received a text saying she was triggered at someone at the restaurant that had asked her if she knew self defense.

What angers me the most is while this shouting match was going on, my lovely neighbor who is about the same age as my relative is standing in her front lawn yelling “I’m calling the fucking cops!”. I asked her calmly not to call the cops and she yells “I’m calling them!” and went into her house. Listen, bitch. Two things. A. How about an “Is everything ok?” before threatening to call the cops rather than making it about you. No, she wasn’t ok. She was having flashbacks. How about some empathy? Or maybe you should just mind your own business if you can’t be of any help. And B. You have a kid you can’t take care of and the cops are pretty much regulars at your house. I have been to your house as a professional to help you at your worst time and this is what we get?? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

So today, after a very stressful evening and a very furious morning (dear neighbor, this is NOT ok), I went in search for some more information on PTSD and how I can help my relative when she needs it. I stumbled upon a forum and there was a post written by someone currently suffering from PTSD. The person wrote that they found one of their therapy notebooks and had highlighted an entry using “Just for today”. It seems like an excellent way to start helping yourself. Just for today is really a non-committal, short, baby step in the right direction. Because if you do something just for today, and you do it just for today the next day, you can really start the ball rolling on positive thinking, positive actions, and a more positive life.

Here is my just for today.

Just for today, I am going to forgive you (neighbor) for being a completely heartless dumb bitch.

Just for today, I am going to remind myself that my relative really needs my help and to overlook the extremely tough meltdowns she has after a trigger.

Just for today, I am going to make peace with the idea of the person who traumatized my relative and caused this heartache for all of us.

Just for today, I am going to believe that I could not have done anything more to protect her, help her, or prevent this from happening.

Just for today I am going to try to not worry so much about the little things.

Just for today, I am going to have a little “me” time and relax a little more.

Just for today, I am going to try not to stress about the projects awaiting completion around my home.

Just for today, I am going to believe I am in the right place at the right time.

Just for today, I am going to be fully and completely happy.

Just for today, it is ok to let someone else be strong for me.

Just for today, I am going to heal.

What are your just for todays?