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?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

House Hunting 7.10.11

Eventually I'll make a post about my specific house requirements, what requirements need to be met before we buy and our savings thus far.  But for now I'm just gonna focus on this GREAT house.

My momma and I go house hunting almost every Sunday. She was out of town this week so I went by myself to look at a few. The first one is a bit out of my comfort zone, price-wise, but it really is the first house I could actually see myself in. I love it! but it might be TOO much house for just the husband and myself.

Ain't it a beaut?

Photo courtsey of  Family Realty 

It has all our needs and wants covered. 2.5 baths, FOUR bedrooms, a formal dining room, mostly hardwood floors and a full finished basement.  Some of my favorite features are
  • the 2 sets of stairs! One set is in the living room and the other is just off the kitchen. The 2 meet at a landing and then you follow a new stairway up to the 2nd floor. It's so cute! And the stairs aren't directly in front of the front door. I do not like the way that looks.  Plus, I think it's a no no in regard to fung shei. We must respect all cultures!
  • that the main living area consists of the large living room, dining room and kitchen; it also has a half bath off the kithcen, which is GREAT for entertaining.  There is a full bath on the top and bottom floors, but your guests don't need to be all up in your bathroom bid'ness.  They can just use the properly named "guest bathroom" with its rarely used towels and nice smelling soap.  Plus, it's easy to keep a bathroom you never use clean!
  • the hardwood floors on the main level that are beautiful, the carpet upstairs which is nice and plush and the basement because it doesn't feel all basement-y.  It's really nicely done with the block windows that let in a bunch of light. Perfect for my husband because that's where he's gonna have all his movie/comic book/regular book/sports randomness.  And he will love it!  He will.  
  • I also like that there isn't much to do to it (and for the price there better not be) before you moved in.  Some new paint in the bedrooms, natually. I am personally not a fan of Peyton Manning (it steams from my college years spent just miles away from where he played college ball) and the little girl motif is really not my style but I could deal with the paint color in the main floor for a while.  And even though that half bath isn't very impressive it would certainly do for the time being.
The yard is very small but it does have a large garage and plenty of off street parking.  It's in a great neighborhood, centerally located and I am pretty sure I could get that house for less than the asking price. But alas, we won't be ready to buy til at least next year. 

But that's okay. For now, I just love going window shopping for houses!

What about you? Are you thinking of buying in this buyers market? Or have you been burned by the housing crisis? I'd love to hear your story!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This is Number One! This is Number One!

Oh yes, I have a blog. A blog to talk about how much I love shopping and my fascination with saving my not-that-hard-earned cash and money.  A blog to talk about budgets and and getting the most for your money.  A blog to talk about my love of all things personal finance and house hunting.  But most of all this is just a fun thing for me to do. I'm excited to share just how cheap frugal I am with you!

On a seperate note:  Plastic fabric........ woot woot!

Back stage at Devo with piece of a costume.....Mike Mothersbaugh's perhaps?