Tag Archives: money

Cost of Living

I’ve always prided myself on being one of those die-hard Michigan residents who says I’ll stick it out through tough times – thick and thin.  I don’t care if tons of home are in foreclosure!  I don’t care if I am living paycheck to paycheck!  It will get better!  I will stay when others go!

But I got a job offer in another state a couple weeks ago.  Now some of the main reasons I’m taking the job?  It’s near my boyfriend and it’s a unique job opportunity.  But the fact that I can rent a bigger place for $200 less a month, the price of gas is about 30 cents cheaper per gallon, and groceries are more affordable certainly doesn’t hurt.  I’ve calculated an annual savings of $3000-4000 a year just in savings from rent and life expenses alone.

I want to come back to my home state as soon as possible.  But wow…being able to start saving for retirement is such a nice thought.  I don’t think I can pass up long term financial stability just because of my sense of state pride.  It doesn’t make much sense (cents).

Mediocre Money Management = Not Brain Surgery

I am not a financial whiz.  If I were, you would not see my words on this blog, as I would be touring the world on a more-or-less permanent basis.  I make a lot of mistakes with my money, thankfully most of them small ones (note to self at 18: don’t cash out that retirement plan your job made you get!  You’ll regret it much later!).  

Even though I consider myself only an average money manager in terms of ability, it still hurts my brain so much to read things like this.   If you don’t feel like reading the article, let me summarize it for you:

1.  Family lives in home that, due to whatever circumstances, is falling apart

2.  TV show comes in and saves the day by giving family a COMPLETELY FREE home, along with LOTS OF CASH.

3.  Family decides that best way to use this newfound stroke of luck is to take out a $450,000 loan on the FREE HOME to pay for a “construction business.”

4.  Three years later, family is in foreclosure on the FREE HOME. 

Now, let me just get on my soapbox.  I know I’m not a money whiz.  However, common sense is really not common when it comes to money these days.  Let me just spell it out for those who would follow in the footsteps of this family:

  • If your house is paid for, and you decide you want to start a business, your house does not then become a magic ATM.  If you take money out, you have to be able to put the money back in–and the banks won’t wait for you to hit that lucky 7.  Want to start a business?  Save cash, take out a regular small business loan, or sell your house and downsize–use the money from the sale that you don’t use on the smaller home for the business.
  • If someone gives you a free large house and a lot of money, and you’ve never had either of these things before, consult someone that does know what they’re doing.  Not me.  Not any blogger out there.  Talk to a person that has a business card that says “Financial Planner” and has a lot of certifications on it.  Do some research and get a person that doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg to make your money work for you.
  • If you can’t or aren’t willing to do any of the above with your free/paid-for home and extra cash, then give it to me.  I promise to do a better job with it.

~K

Another Idea I Wish I’d Had First . . .

Spouse works full-time and goes to school. I take care of all his textbook purchases and such, because left to his own devices he would just go to the school bookstore while I, the Pennywise Librarian, will scour the entire internets to get the best penny-saving deal.

That is what I found myself doing yesterday, when I found this site. It was as if the heavens had opened. Chegg.com lets you rent your textbooks!!! What a fantastic idea! No more paying way more than you wanted to, only to later be stuck with a book that you can only sell for a quarter. I was quite excited. They don’t have everything, but they have enough to make a major impact on our book-buying budget.

Now, I haven’t used their service yet, so I can’t officially recommend them, but I can at least spread the word and save other starving college students some cash.

~K

And when I am bad, I am very, very bad.

I read personal finance and frugal living blogs all the time.  I champion the “less-is-more!” cause with like-minded friends.  I make my own bread.  I write on this blog. 

But I have a dark side.  There are times when I want to be–even times when I am–a rampant consumer.   Many people have heard of Dave Ramsey’s “debt snowball” plan.  A lot of people online talk about debt snowflaking.  I want to be out of debt very, very badly.  But I also want a pair of new shoes, some new black pants, that new book out by my favorite author, a new couch for our newly finished basement, and . . .

Clearly, snowballing doesn’t just happen when one is paying down debt.  I think of it this way: I get money–my “snowflakes.”  Many little moneys equal a “snowball.”  I nourish and develop these snowballs until I decide to send them off into the world.  Rolling them down “Hill A” means sending them to various debtors where they continue to pick up speed and more snowflakes in the form of saved interest and lower bills.  Rolling them down “Hill B” means I have a shiny new thing but no more snowball.   I have to start over.

Some weeks I’m really good about staying on Hill A and paying down debt.  This is not one of those weeks. 

On Friday, I got bored and went to Borders.  Borders for librarians is sort of like a liquor store for alcoholics.   On Sunday, I went to an art show.  Have I mentioned that I have a M.A. in Art History?  Art shows are also a particular weakness.  Yesterday was my three-year wedding anniversary–we just had to go out for sushi to celebrate the fact that we still like to be in the same room together.

Today I caught myself fantasizing about buying these so I could essentially wear my slippers everywhere I go.   I also went to Jimmy John’s for lunch.  It’s got to stop!  Tonight I will buckle down, face my worst fears (aka balance the checkbook) and re-commit myself to more fiscally responsible behaviors.

Do you ever find yourself snowballing in the wrong direction?  What are your “self-intervention” strategies?

~K

How I got a yearly People Magazine subscription for $86

My mom, for as long as I have known her (quite some time now), has always read People magazine.  Every Friday either she or my well-trained father will pick the newest edition up from the store.  For years, I’ve been trying to tell her that she would save a lot of dough by just subscribing already since she reads it with such devotion. 

Alas, my mother never listens to me.  So for her birthday this year, the big 5-0, I decided to gift her a subscription in the hopes that she will share the magazine with me a little more readily  because I am a nice daughter. 

However, as anyone who reads it is well aware, People is not cheap.  It’s something like $4 an issue at the newsstand, for 53 issues.  Meaning my mother has been spending about $212 yearly for the magazine.  On their website, they offer the low price of $116.07 for the year.  I love my mother, but I also love my bank account, so I decided to shop around a bit.  Unfortunately, $116.07 seems to be the going rate.  Undeterred, I tried to see about coupons at retailmenot.com — although they came through on my last airfare purchase, they were of no help this time.   Still undeterred, I surfed on over to another great site–Ebates.

Ebates basically works by offering money back on your purchases when you click through to shopping sites on their portal.  In this case, I happily discovered that the store Magazines.com was offering 26% back on Ebates purchases.   This was exciting!  After a quick transaction, my mom now will be receiving People for a year, and I received $30 in my Ebates account (the money back goes to my Paypal account quarterly). 

A caveat, however.  I’ve used Ebates with great success except for one occasion, which of course was my most expensive purchase.  I’m still hoping that their customer service will fix that, but I’m no longer holding my breath.  I use the service for things that I am going to purchase anyway, so when it works, great!  Cash back!  When it doesn’t . . . as in the one major purchase I made . . . well I’m not out anything. 

What are some of your favorite sites for finding good deals online?

~K