Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Well, aren't you looking Suave

Now, little more than 6 months ago I was buying Suave shampoo and conditioner because it was cheap and it said “Works as well as the salon brands”.  Well I wasn’t going to fancy salons back then --- I do not count Great Clips as a fancy salon.  And neither should you.  But I’m sure you don’t.  You’re so smart! I can tell by the way you read by blog --- so how was I to know THEY ARE A BUNCH OF LIARS?!  Whatever shampoo and conditioner I was using in January was not making me feel pretty.  It was making my hair feel very coarse and it was really “big”, not sleek like I want it to be.  But because I was still a cheapskate I continued to buy the Suave.  Stupid Suave.

But now that I am able to treat myself to some luxuries I do go to a fancy salon and I do buy better types of hair care products. (But still on the clearance.  Old habits die hard my friend.)  Currently I have been using John Freida’s Brilliant Brunette.  I really like it!  I got a shampoo, conditioner and a straightening gloss for less than 8 bucks at Target a while back.  Now that is a great price.  The shampoos and conditioner alone would have been 10 and I don’t know how much that gloss would have been, I’m guessing another 5 bucks or so.

But anyway, I liked that brand.  My hair was sleeker and shinier, and I think it smelled rather nice.  The only problem I had was that it didn’t really lather up too well.  Especially when my hair was dirty.

*Just to be clear:  I take a shower everyday…… UNLESS I am going to go swimming at the in laws.  Then I just wash my face, brush my teeth and go.  So by the end of the day (or Sunday morning) my hair is not looking its best.*

When it is really dirty I need something to get in there all sudsy like and get to cleaning.  And I just didn’t feel Mr. Frieda doing that for me.  So while I was grocery shopping the other day I stopped to look at the shampoos.  Since I knew I was only going to use whatever I bought once a week at the most I knew I didn’t want to spend too much on it (but of course, I never want to spend too much on anything, ever) but I wanted it to not leave my hair feeling like a Brillo pad.  I had decided on some sort of smell good stuff  and then a bottle of Suave Clarifying shampoo caught my eye.

Since what I was really trying to do was clarify the look and feel of my hair I decided to just get it.  It was only 88 cents! What’s the harm in buying really cheap shampoo?  It would get the job done and the only person I would have gross hair in front of is my husband and he has already seen me at my worst (believe me).

And you know what?

This shampoo is great!  My hair felt clean and soft and manageable.  It was really a very nice surprise.  I even used it this past Monday I liked it so much.  John Freida better watch out!

And you know what else?  And this is just icing on the cake since the shampoo is actually good.  It was actually an even BETTER deal than I thought!

The same exact product is sold on Amazon for almost $0.60 more.  Woot woot!

So there you have it.  A great example of living the couture life on a clearance rack price!

What’s your favorite cheapo product that works like something WAY more expensive?  How are you living the couture life on a clearance rack price?

Pictures from here and here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

House Hunting 7.31.11

My momma and I were busy this Sunday! 5 houses! Good times, good times.

I won't mention all of them, just the 2 that were the most........ memorable.

The first house we looked at is now officially my "I could really live here" house.  I know I said that about this house on this post but this time I mean it even MORE.  This house was well within our budget and was totally move in ready.  It had everything we want on our list.  It was great!

Oh, lookie there.  I made the picture bigger.  That's nice.

I mean, look how cute this little home is!  Can you say curb appeal? And look at that covered porch.

When I saw this house the first time online I was a little concerned about that wrought iron gate lookin' thing.  But when we got to the showing it was gone.  I guess it was a baby gate or some such thing.  Also, I would lose the navy blue counter tops.  But that flooring! I am a sucker for hardwoods (hehehehehehe) and that's pretty floor is throughout the house, even in the basement.

The dinning room is right next to the kitchen but it's not an eat in kitchen, which I do not like.  And look at how pretty the view is into the backyard!

The house has 3 nice sized bedrooms (they would have to be repainted.  One of them is little girly with flowers and purple walls.  Cute, but not for me.)  and 2 full baths; one on the main floor and one in the basement.  And please, check out this basement:

The hubby gets the whole basement, man cave, what have you. Except for the laundry room.  I'm sure that will be my domain.  This is the basement bath.

It's freaking HUGE!  The whole basement is so so well done.  I have seen some that are not that great but this one is super nice.

You know what else is super nice?

This huge back yard!  The 2 car garage!

It has a fish pond for crying out loud!

The 411:
Total square feet: 2208
Finished: 1644
Unfinished: 504 (laundry room and storage in basement)
Brick; built in 1960
Asking price: $145,000

Plus, remember how I looked at the house that I could walk to work from?  Well, at this house my hubby could walk to work.  It's just down the street and take a left!  Plus, this place is just down the street from where we live now, and we love the central location.  If it was 2012 I would so buy this house!

Now, on to another house.  This one memorable for different reasons.

Let's start with this AWESOME Photoshop job by the realtor:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  And he put in a BMW and maybe some sort of Porsche?  It's hard to say.
Oh, this makes me laugh.

Now, the floors are nice (you know how I feel about hardwoods).

Let me tell you a little secret about this bathroom.........

It was DISGUSTING!  I mean, the toilet bowl was brown and dirty (TMI?) and so was the sink.  It was just gross gross gross.

And apparently something else was gross.  The realtor's breath! HA!  As we were leaving my mom said he might have had the worst breath she has ever smelled.  And my mom would not just say that!  The realtor was not a winner.  He tried to pressure me into buying or leasing the house (ummm, no) and he was wearing shorts.  Now, I know it's been in the high 90s here for weeks but really, the house was air conditioned.  Be professional and put on some pants man!  He also said he would love to work with me.  I politely declined.  If the man will show a house with a nasty bathroom I just can't trust his judgement.  And you shouldn't wear shorts to work.

So there you have it! It was a great Sunday and I cannot wait till this weekend to do it all again!

Photos courtesy of this site.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm still frugal, but now I get compliments on my clothes

Sooooooooo, the whole reason I decided to start this blog was a very lucrative trip to the mall.  And by lucrative I mean I GOT ALL KINDS OF STUFF FOR PRACTICALLY NOTHING!

Sorry, I don’t mean to yell, I’m just so freaking excited about it.  I usually never shop at the mall.  It’s too expensive.  The stores don’t have the sales, or the clearance racks, that I covet so much.  Sometimes their return policies aren’t up to my standards.  But mostly I just can’t justify paying 70 dollars for a pair of pants.  Granted, I know these clothes are generally of a better quality than the ones I buy at Target.  But I’m okay with only being able to wear a cheap shirt for one season.  I like to shop and if I buy a top in May and have to get rid of it in October that’s okay.  It just means that I’ll get to buy a new top in another 6 months or so.  And I’ll only be spending about 4 bucks a top.  It might sound wasteful, but when all my discretionary spending money goes to clothes I like to have something to spend it on.

Anywho, I decided to go to the mall for whatever reason.  I think it might have been to spend the rest of a Macy’s card I got as a gift from my in law’s (Thanks Mom!)  Well, Macy’s didn’t have anything so I ventured deeper into the uncharted waters of the posh, upscale, located-in-the-fancy-part-of-town mall.  I passed New York and Co., a store that I had shopped ar back when I was in college (I even have a store card there, but of course I have a store card to almost every store in existence!) and they had big SALE signs in their windows.  I was intrigued.  And let me tell you folks, they were not kidding about their sale!  They had pants for less $9.99 and shirts on the cheap, too.  I even found a white summer jacket that I had been looking for FOREVER and I had vowed that when I found one I really liked I would spend whatever they were asking.  And they were asking $24.99, regularly 50 bucks!  So I bought a shirt, that jacket and a pair of pants.  Plus, when I was checking out they gave me an extra 15% off because I reopened my charge card.  (Have no fear I’ve already paid off all my charge card purchases.  A girl who hates debt LIVES to pay it off in a timely manner.)

Take a peek at my receipt from that first foray into fancy store clothes at cheap-o prices:

I know, right?!

But wait it gets better.  I went BACK after a few days or so because I got a coupon for $25 off a purchase of $75.  Now, usually I would never ever ever spend $75 on clothes in one fell swoop but I got such a good deal the first time I thought I could really get some nice stuff and at a great price. 

* Side Note: Now, I’m not just buying these clothes just to be buying clothes.  After years of wearing cheap colored t-shirts from Kohl’s ever day to work I decided it was time to give my wardrobe a little boost.  Plus, my current job is at a very conservative and professional place.  Although many of the lower level employees (myself included. Hey, I ain’t no big wig.) wear clothes like I had been wearing, many of the executive assistants and women in management positions wear very nice polished, professional clothes.  There is a saying that you should dress for the job you want (as discussed here in this HIGH-LARIOUS podcast my husband and I listen to) and I decided that I should really up the ol’ professional look.  And to do that I had to spend money *gasp* but in true couturelife-clearanceprice fashion (see what I did there?) I got the nice clothes at rock bottom prices.*

Okay, back to the shopping spree.  Check out this receipt and see my awesome bargains!

 My bad on the scanned reciepts.  Hopefully these will get better with time.

I got a watch for 13 bucks and a necklace for $6! Holy macaroni! And these are nice shirts.  I’m going to have to bring one back though; a little TOO revealing for the most conservative company in the city.  But everything else is really nice and pretty.  I’m gonna be honest with you people person, the shirts I used to wear were not pretty.  They were bland.  I am very pleased with my pretty purchases!

So there you have it.  That shopping trip to NY & Co. was the inspiration for this blog.  But the crazy couturelife-clearanceprice shopping spree does not end here.  Oh no! Stay tuned for my surprise encounter at another store that I used to think was WAY out of my price range.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The One That Got Away

And no, I'm not talking about a trout!

So that house that I looked at last weekend? It’s already off the market.  Looks like someone got the deal of the century.

That house was in excellent shape. And remember that picture of the hardwood floors that I didn’t know where they came from?  The sellers ripped up the carpet and that beautiful flooring was throughout the house!

All the rooms were a good size, the basement showed no signs of water damage or leaking and there was a great spot in the basement to put in an additional full bath.  The backyard was kinda small, but we could have put a pool in back there (for the hubby).  The sellers had a carport and there was probably room to add another so both our cars could be under cover. (Gah! I hate cleaning snow off my car in the winter.)

The street was SO quite and as momma and I left we went out a different way than we came in and the neighborhood behind the house? Wowsers.  Super nice.  With that house on the market for 125k and a few upgrades; extra bath, finish the basement, update the kitchen & current bath it would easily resell for at LEAST 175k, if not more.  Even in this market.

But alas, we are not QUITE ready to make a purchase.  I just know that when we are the PERFECT house will be out there, waiting for us. 

On another note, with the weather being so BEASTLY, momma and I passed on house hunting this week and I slept until 3 on Sunday.  What a life!

What about you? Any houses you’ve seen that were a steal? Or maybe you were lazy like me this weekend? Whatever your story, I’d love to hear it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Budget

I’ve had many budgets over the years but for this bloggy blog I’m just going to focus on the ones I’ll have in 2011 and going forward.  I’m totally excited that I’ll have more than one and that I have to redo my budget because I am paying off debts!! Oh, nothing makes me happier than paying off my debts.  Well, the husband makes me pretty happy too.  And have I mentioned how much I love my precious niece?  She IS the cutest child in the world.  And it’s not just because I am biased.  Everyone in the family thinks so.  J

Am I wrong?

No, I didn’t think so.

Okay, back to the budget at hand. I have been at my current position since late January of this year.  I’m sure I will share with you, my one reader, what my work and salary history has been over the years, but for the time being I am going to start with what I am making NOW and how I budget with this income.

PS: This is all in monthly dollars………. errr, percentages.

car loan
personal loan
school loan
car ins
holiday gifts
car fund
cat food
extra payment personal loan
health insurance
personal care


I like to break up my out-of-the-ordinary expenses (the big bag of cat food I have to buy every few months, my zumba classes, saving for holiday gifts) so that they don’t surprise me and then I would be caught without the money for them.  Then I would either have to use my savings OR put the item on my credit card.  This is something I do NOT like to do. I would MUCH rather take a little bit out each month and make sure I have enough to cover these instances.

This is the approach I have taken in recent years with my financial responsibilities and it has really been treating me well.

How about you? Do you budget for EVERYTHING or do you fly by the seat of your pants, no budget at all?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I could walk to work!

Tomorrow my momma and I are going to look at this house!

It is in a NICE part of town.  The fancy, nice part of town where they only thing I could ever do out there is work....... and I have for the past 5 years.  So this would be great, location wise, for me.  Not so much for the hubby who now works less than 5 minutes from home to his workplace.  It takes him more time to walk from his car to his office on the 5th floor than it does to drive!   I, on the other hand, have to drive 15-30 minutes on 2 expressways to get to the office and when we more offices  (posts to come, I'm sure!)  I'll be 20-30 minutes away. Therein lies the major beauty of this house....... I could walk to our new office from here!

I seriously can not believe that a house in that area could be in our price range.  And so much in our price range that we would have money left to finish the basement, add a  full bath and update the full bath already in the home.  We might have to do those upgrades over the course of a year but they would be done.  And then we would have a great house in a great part of town.

Some of the places needing a little TLC:

It looks like just the flooring and tile would have to be replaces.  I can handle the vanity and toilet and the tub will certainly do.  I like that it looks so clean!

The basement already has walls.  Granted, they are wood paneled walls, but thanks to younghouselove, I know how to get those dated knotty pines to look new and fresh.  (How about them Petersik's...... what CAN'T they do?!)  My husband is going to have his "man cave" down here so I want it to be a great space for him.  We'd also need to put a 3/4 bath own here.  I think that would go in first and then we would work on the painting and flooring issues for the rest of the space.

Isn't this flooring loverly?  I'm not exactly sure where it IS, exactly, but I know it looks nice.  I totally prefer hardwood floors over carpeting.  I had them in my house growing up and in my first apartment and I think they add much more character to a home than carpeting does.

Do you prefer hardwood flooring or soft, comfy carpet? 

I'll post a follow up next week about how this home showed!

Photos curtesy of Family Realty

Friday, July 15, 2011

The “B” Word

I’ve always been a big fan of budgets. They just help me think more clearly about my finances.  Even though most of my money goes to fixed bills I still like the security of having a budget where I allocate all my monetary funds to a specific bill or goal; I like knowing that all my money matters are covered.

Generally I break my budget up so that I am paying roughly the same amount each pay period (I get paid on the 1st and the 15th).  It makes it so much easier; I don’t have to save a little from my first paycheck to cover something in my next paycheck. I also like the consistency of my system. 

I always make sure I have my bills paid before I use ANY of what I call “fun money”.  This is like rule numero uno for me in regard to my financial life.  I’m a pay-yourself-first kind of gal so saving 100 bucks every month is much more important to me than having 100 bucks to spend on myself (draw a line through “spend on myself”) buy something with.  I crossed that out because I am actually spending that money I save on myself.  A substantial savings account is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.  And I like to be as generous as possible to me!

 I don’t track my individual purchases when using my fun money, but that may be something I think about doing in the future.  Then I could budget for personal care items, for eating out and for anything else that I spend my money on regularly.  And if I felt that I was spending too much on any one category (like fast food) I could rearrange my budget to not give me so much in that particular type of expense.  It might be more trouble that it’s worth, but it is definitely something I want to look into in the future.

I don’t know how most of my friends budget, or even if they do. My mom and sister are big budgeters (you have to be when you’re watching every little penny, as my momma used to say). On the other hand, husband doesn’t budget at all. I’d love to find out more about my friends budgeting ways (or lack there of) but I get the feeling most folks aren’t as into personal finance as I am.  And it is such a cultural taboo to discuss money. Why is that? We have no problem talking about celebrity sex tapes, but money….. oh no!

What about you? How and what do you budget? Do you get excited like me when you get paid and get to pay your bills? Or am I the only one who is weird like that?