The last time I went on a date with anyone other than my husband the year was 1999. I have been out of the dating scene for a very, very long time, so when my good friend M told me about her recent dating fiascoes I couldn’t help but realize how time and money have changed my perspective on who should pay for the first date.
According to M the inviter should pay for the invitee. Since a man typically asks the lady for a date he should pay and shouldn’t accept any money from the invitee even if she insists on paying.
Her basis for this is an interesting one. She, (and I believe many other woman), feel that paying for dinner is a man’s way of making the woman feel special. It’s his way of saying I want to spend time with you, I’m interested in what you have to say and I’m willing to shell out a few bucks to show it.
She compared it with pledging a frat. If you pay you get to stay and make friends. If you can’t fork over the money then you don’t get in. It’s as simple as that. There were some funny sexual jokes after that, but since this is a family friendly blog I won’t go on about that.
I’m not exactly in agreement. I don’t believe that forking over a few dollars shows that a man cares any more than the guy who expects the woman to split the bill. I’ve read a lot of posts recently on the same topic and the comments that follow and I realize that as a woman I tend to be in the minority on this subject. I just don’t think that money should be used as an indicator of interest, respect or desire.
I think a man shows how he feels about a woman in so many other ways. For example does he hold doors for you, offer you his coat if it’s cold or to share the food on his plate. Does he ask you questions about your life or family? Does he seem interested in what you have to say? These indicate interest and respect much more than how the bill was split at the end of the night.
I should point out that I made a six figure salary when I was working, which certainly sways my thoughts on the subject. I realize a woman in less fortunate circumstances may feel more wooed by a man who is willing to pay for her.
I personally think it’s unfair to expect a man to pay for every first date. How many first dates turn into second ones and how much money is he shelling out for women he may or may never see again. I think a new rule should be set in place. If the woman likes you enough to go on a second date then the man pays. If this is a one and done deal then she pays her own way as if to say “thanks but no thanks we won’t be doing this again.”
As we discussed the topic M stood firm in her belief that the man should pay. She pointed out that the first date doesn’t have to be an expensive one and posed the following scenario: A man asks a woman on a date to a free museum in DC, they look at the exhibits then walk through the city. At some point the guy buys hot dogs and ice cream for his date and they sit on a park bench eating, chatting and watching people. The man pays for the hot dogs and ice cream, but it would certainly be classified as an inexpensive date.
So the question becomes: Would most women would prefer eating hot dogs or splitting the bill? Depending on how this date goes you could see the man as being very sweet and caring or you could see him as a cheapskate who didn’t want to pay for your meal.
What do you think? Do you think the man should pay for the first date and how big of a factor is that in deciding if you’ll go out again? Many of my readers are women, but I’d also love for the men to chime in on this topic.
Over the past two months I won $450 worth of Visa and Amazon gift cards from a variety of online giveaways. I used to enter contests quite often and even kept track of all of the items I won on my old blog, but unfortunately when I ported it over to Word Press I lost the details of that page. In the past I entered contests for just about anything I thought I could sell or give as gifts, but these days I typically look for prizes that will benefit my son, husband or myself. In fact, I rarely enter contests, so it’s surprising that I won five within a 45 day period.
I didn’t dedicate much time to entering. In fact most of the giveaways required nothing more than a comment and an email address. Unfortunately, since I won all of this loot I’ve gotten into a bit of a giveaway frenzy and I realized today that I’m probably wasting a little too much time submitting entries to these contests.
I can’t help but wonder if I’m on a lucky streak. Of course, I realize every gambler thinks that as she sits at the roulette or black jack table and watches her chips stack up.
Whether I win contests or not I consider myself very lucky in life. I’ve written about my happiness hundreds of times on this blog, but this post highlights the joy in my life.
This paragraph says it all:
The joy in my world is so great that sometimes it makes my heart hurt. It’s those little moments. You know the ones. Like when my son plays hide-and-seek and runs out from behind the furniture when he hears me coming to get him. When my husband scoops ice cream, drizzles chocolate over the top along with brightly colored sprinkles and brings it to me while I sit in the living room. Or how about the sound of my son giggling for absolutely no reason from the back of the car. It’s a sound that immediately makes me smile and melts my heart.
A friend once asked if luck begets luck. I don’t know the answer, but it does seem like the luckier I feel the luckier I am in life.
What is it about Costco, the enormous warehouse store, that makes me open my purse and hand over my debit card time and time again? On my last visit I watched the register numbers tick higher and higher until the final price of $245 glared in bright green numbers before me. I couldn’t for the life of me imagine how the items in my cart added up to that amount, which is of course the same feeling I have every time I walk out of that store.
I never run into the same problem at the regular grocery store. I walk in with a list, primarily pick out only the items I intend to buy and walk out spending roughly the same amount I expected. So what is it about Costco that ensures I spend more than I intended to every single time?
I think it’s twofold. First, they have an amazing return policy. I once purchased rotten strawberries from the store. Of course, I didn’t realize they were moldy when I bought them, but I didn’t want to rush back to Costco just to return them that same day. I called customer service and they told me to bring back the empty container, because who is going to keep rotten strawberries hanging out in the fridge until their next visit. Sure enough when I brought that container three weeks later they issued me a full refund.
Recently I returned a toy I bought over six months ago my son. I almost never buy him new toys, because he receives so many hand-me-downs, but this one seemed like a good exception. When the toy broke I took it straight to customer service. The Costco employee looked up my purchase, using my Costco membership card, and promptly refunded my money.
The second reason I spend so much money is because the prices really cannot be beat. I would’ve paid over double at my local grocer for the three pounds of organic ground beef I purchased there. The same goes for fruits and vegetables. Not all of Costco’s produce is organic, but for items that aren’t in the dirty dozen you can find great deals.
Whenever I leave the store I have to remind myself that a lot of food will be placed in the freezer for future meals. That also means that I don’t frequent the store very often. I only go to Costco once a month, sometimes only every two or three, so that food really is stretched out over a long period of time.
If you don’t want to spend too much I recommend treating Costco like the real grocery store. Try to stick to the parts of the store that sell meats, produce, fish, fresh fruits, vegetables and staple food products. Don’t let yourself wander from aisle to aisle. The first few times I went to the store I made that mistake and ended up wasting a good amount of money on things I didn’t really need.
Also, really think about all of the items you add to your cart. If you can’t eat ten pounds of apples than don’t buy them there. You are better off buying a smaller portion from your local grocery store. These days I only buy items I know we’ll use. If I buy a huge bag of lemons I search for recipes that will ensure we use them. Sometimes I prepare meals that can be frozen in advance and pulled out on busy evenings.
Also know the shelf life of your fruits and vegetables. Strawberries don’t last a particularly long amount of time in the fridge, but oranges can often stay fresh for much longer. If it’ll take you awhile to eat down your stash of fruits and vegetables then pick produce that can wait in the fridge for days or weeks at a time.
I always walk out of the store buying more than I intended, but at least we no longer waste the items I do purchase. If I come home with something unexpected I pull up Google and begin searching for new recipes. I’ve actually discovered a few interesting meals that way.
Do you have any tricks for spending less money at Costco? Do you find yourself buying a bunch of items you never intended to purchase?
Note: This is a guest post.
No matter how frugal or money-savvy you may be there may come a time in your life when you simply don’t have the funds available to pay for something you need. When this happens a loan may seem like a viable option, but what happens when you are in a relationship and both you and your partner need money?
When you’re in a relationship a certain amount of your independence is gone. You may maintain separate bank accounts, but there may come a time when a mutual interest requires money and, thus, the option of a joint loan comes into consideration.
In that case the question becomes: Are joint loans a good option?
Before signing a joint loan you should make sure you understand the nature of a joint financial decision and the repercussions if one party can no longer afford to make payments.
First and foremost, joint loans make sense when used to fund joint ventures. In this case two people should have an interest in the item in need of financing. If both parties don’t have an interest than there is no need for a joint loan.
If both parties are in agreement that a loan is required for the item in question than a joint loan might be very useful. If you’re both working the added weight and support of two separate incomes can help with the loan repayments.
Joint Bank Account
Likewise, it can be also be argued that these loans work best when with a joint bank account. Since both parties are responsible for the loan, it’s only fair that the money is shared and accessible by both people. Do not sign a loan with someone you don’t trust, but even if you do trust the other person it helps to have access to the funds being used to pay back the loan.
A shared responsibility also means a shared access to the money, as well as a shared duty in repaying the loan. As such a joint bank account is somewhat mandatory for agreeing to sign for a joint loan. If you already share money in at least one account, that makes the loan itself much easier from your perspective, since you can both monitor the account in question.
Loans aren’t something you want to take lightly but they can often prove a very good solution when money is tight. The same principles can be applied to joint loans. Just make certain you are both on board with the need for a loan, that you’ve looked at all possibilities for funding including asking relatives for help or delaying the purchase to a later point in time. Above all else make certain that both parties know what they are getting into. You don’t want to sign for a loan today and find that you are making all of the payments yourself a few months or years later.
I believe I’m having a change of heart about spending money. I bought a new car, remodeled my bathroom and spent money on a number of home improvement projects on my beach house in North Carolina. On one hand I want to kick myself for forgetting to print a 15% off coupon for my last visit to Kohls’ and on the other I easily shelled out thousands of dollars for big ticket items.
I no longer find myself telling people to hold onto their money or to save as much as they can. I suddenly want to shout “live a little.”
After a lifetime of not spending much money it feels good to loosen the purse strings a little. Okay, maybe more than a little maybe quite a lot. When I shower in my updated bathroom I don’t have to look at dingy, dirty 1950s gray tile and when I hoist my son into his car seat I no longer feel like I’m breaking my back to do so.
The home renovations aren’t a total loss financially. Not only do they provide us with nicer amenities now, but they will also help us sell the house for more if/when the time ever comes to sell them. The car’s value dropped the minute we drove it off the lot, but I feel so comfortable driving it and getting my son in and out of it.
While part of me feels the need to nickel and dime with coupons and sales the other part of me thinks I’ve already saved so much maybe I should put the brakes on my frugality. Perhaps I’ve been too strict with my money. I suddenly feel like a freshman in college who has the freedom to do what she pleases but suddenly finds herself too tempted to attend class everyday and get good grades.
Do you ever wrestle with spending and saving? Do you feel like sometimes you just want to save, save, save and other times you need to splurge and spend?
I’ve taken thousands of photographs in the past year and a half. From the time my son was born until he turned one I pulled out the camera and photographed him every other day. My initial photos aren’t particularly good. My husband was the photographer in the family and until my son was born I felt little need to pick up a camera.
But once that little guy came into our lives I couldn’t seem to resist the urge to photograph him. There are pictures on blankets, propped up in chairs and sleeping peacefully in his crib. There are pictures holding stuffed animals, learning to lift his chin off the floor and stretching out his fingers for the very first time.
A few months ago I searched through thousands of photographs to create a book of my favorites. I quickly found that one book simply wouldn’t be enough to hold all of my favorite images. I ended up creating four books, breaking them down into four month periods. It’s amazing to watch the transformation of my son’s face over a year and a half. The wrinkles of his first days and the chubbiness that followed are a thing of the past. Every day he looks less and less like a baby and more and more like a little boy.
I love creating prints and placing them on the refrigerator. My son points to the images and I recite the names of the people we’ve photographed beside him.
Awhile back my husband went through a phase of printing images on canvas and our living room now has three or four colorful prints hung on the walls. I kind of forget about them until a new guest comes to our home and admires them.
I’d like to add a few more to our collection and decided to use Easy Canvas Prints to create the photo prints. I’ve used a number of printing places in the past, but I like their easy to use ordering process and the prints turn out exactly as you would expect.
Last year I surprised my husband with a canvas print of one of my favorite photographs. It’s a simple picture of a sailboat at sunset, but it reminds me of North Carolina, a place I dearly love.
Now I just need to pick out the photographs I want to print. With thousands of photos to choose from I’m having a hard time narrowing down my absolute favorites and as I take new pictures I find more and more photographs to love.
Do you take a lot of photographs? If so, do you keep them in digital format or do you print a few?
Note: I received a free canvas for blogging about Easy Canvas Prints but the opinions are my own.
I haven’t written in over two weeks. Rather than sitting in the house typing onto my keyboard I spent time lounging by the swimming pool, playing with my son in the sand and generally enjoying all of the moments that make up the start of summer vacation. I considered typing up a bunch of posts in advance, but to be honest I felt little motivation to do so. While I was away I took a much needed break from technology. I watched one television show in a two and a half week span of time and spent very little time on my laptop.
I spent almost no money while I was away. I bought groceries twice during that trip, a new bathing suit and two much needed shirts, but otherwise I kept myself out of stores and restaurants. It was easy to avoid spending money. The weather was too beautiful to waste inside.
Since we were gone for nearly two weeks my husband felt that it would be the perfect time to pay someone to remodel our bathroom. It’s actually a good thing that we weren’t home because the contractors ripped the walls out entirely and there was dust and debris everywhere.
Our house was built in the early 1950s and the tile in our bathroom had that ground in dirt that could not be removed. The tiles were tiny and the grout around them was unbelievably difficult to clean. To be honest it drove me a little bit crazy. We asked the contractor to install much larger tiles, which cuts down on the maintenance of cleaning the grout in and around them. I must admit that the bathroom looks amazing and as always as I look at the bathroom now I wonder why it took us so long to complete these changes.
Amazingly enough I’m not sure how much it cost us from start to finish. We kept the toilet, but replaced the sink, lights, medicine cabinet and tub. We also bought the tile, grout, fixtures and of course paid the contractors for all of their time and labor. I bet the final cost was somewhere close to $9,000. I may need to review the Home Depot credit card charges for a more definitive answer. This was one of those projects where we seemed to head back and forth to the store to pick up supplies we forgot on the first, second and third trips there.
Of course, now that I see the end results I really want to remodel the master bath and small powder room off of our kitchen. Our powder room is ridiculously small. We once thought about bumping the kitchen back into the bathroom and moving the bathroom into a small room we use as a study, but to be honest I don’t ever see that happening, so I think we should stop kidding ourselves and just remodel that room too. I asked the contractor for a quote, but unless he comes back with a ridiculously high price I have a feeling I’ll be forking over some more money.
I’ve been talking about remodeling these bathrooms since we moved in nearly twelve years ago. While I completely understand the value of delayed gratification I sometimes wonder if I wait too long to change things for the better. Now that I stay home with my son I look at our house a lot more closely. Since I spend so much more time here I really do want it to look beautiful. I’ve also found that if I’m unhappy with my surroundings I’m generally less happy.
Of course, we’ve been shelling out money lately like a bank. Between the new car and the remodeling work we’ve seen quite a dip in our savings. We waited a very long time before making these changes and I think the wait makes me appreciate much more than I ever would have expected.
I’ve been away from home quite a bit over the past few weeks. (It’s one of the reasons I haven’t written a post in over 10 days!) My husband, son and I have been traveling back and forth to our beach house in order to get things in order for the rental season.
We have very few storage spaces in our rental home and closet space is at a premium. We have to find places to store our blankets, sheets, pillows, food and a whole host of other items so we don’t have to drag them back and forth every time we visit North Carolina.
For some reason whenever I start organizing our beach house I also find myself driven to organize like crazy at home. Before we travel on vacation I always eat-down all of the food in the fridge. I search for recipes that can help me use up the last little bit of garlic and onions that are left in the veggie bin. I even use up as much of the soy sauce, chutney, jelly and other assortment of bottles that typically sit on the side of the refrigerator door begging to be used.
As we emptied the fridge day after day I noticed it was in desperate need of a thorough cleaning. I thought about cleaning it, but did something I’ve never done before. I hired cleaners to do it for me. That’s right. I paid someone $25 to pull out all of the drawers, dig into the back of the fridge, take all of the remaining bottles off the side of the door, scrub the gook and clean, clean, clean.
Maybe I should have saved the money and cleaned it out myself, but it felt so nice to have someone else climbing half way into the fridge to remove month old residues that had dripped into places that were nearly impossible to reach.
Lazy? Perhaps. Happy to have someone else clean it? Most definitely.
This weekend my husband and I purchased our first new car in over thirteen years. We bought a brand new 2013 Toyota Highlander Limited. I spent a lot of time researching the best ways to ensure a good price, so I thought I’d share my experience in case it helps anyone else looking to buy a new car.
We weren’t sure if we should buy a new car or focus on a slightly used one, preferably one that was only a year or two old. One sunny Sunday afternoon my husband and I visited CarMax where we wandered through the lot looking at various SUVs and Crossovers. It was there that we narrowed down our vehicles of choice to a Toyota Highlander and a Toyota 4Runner.
We asked to test drive each vehicle. While we both liked the 4Runner a little bit more we decided that the Highlander had much more comfortable seating in both the front seats and the second row. We also liked that the car could fit up to seven if necessary. We’re still not sure if our family will expand any further, but we wanted the option for more space if it was needed. If nothing else it will allow me to transport my son’s friends as he gets older.
I highly suggest test driving a couple of different vehicles before choosing one. I wish I had done this in 1999 when I bought my Honda Civic. I didn’t realize how small and uncomfortable the car until it was too late.
After narrowing down our vehicle of choice I researched prices and found that used cars weren’t that much cheaper than new ones. Plus many of the older cars had lots of options that we didn’t necessarily want or need.
Once we decided to buy a new car I began searching for the best possible price. I went onto Edmunds.com and ran a query to determine the True Market Value. I wrote down the invoice price of each option I wanted as well as the true market value, which indicates what other people in my area paid for the same car.
Next I started my inquiries online. I am fortunate enough to live in an area with a lot of different showrooms, so I pulled up the websites of various dealerships and searched for cars that met my criteria.
Next I weeded out any vehicle that included extra options I didn’t need. There is no sense in paying for items in a car that you don’t want. They will add unnecessarily to the bottom line. I ruled out any car that contained features that weren’t on my original options list. In essence, I ended up with the basic model of a car with nothing more than optional floor mats or floor mats and cargo cross bars.
If I found a car that met my criteria I reached out to the dealership via their online query form and asked for their lowest price. I ended up sending inquiries to four dealerships in my area. Three of the dealerships in our area didn’t haggle, so I knew that there price was the absolute lowest I could receive.
I compared the numbers of each dealership on the base price of the vehicle and then started asking follow up questions. Toyota is currently offering a promotion that includes a $500 cash back rebate or 0% financing. Three of the four salesmen didn’t tell me that their lowest price included the rebate until I asked them. If I wanted the 0% financing I had to add $500 back to their lowest price. I found that kind of shady, but clearly a lot of places do that so it’s definitely something to be aware of when checking prices.
Once I narrowed down the lowest prices I asked each salesman how much it would cost to add extra options that were not included in the vehicle they had for sale. These included items like a tow hitch as well as remote engine starting capabilities. The prices of these add-ons varied greatly among the dealers.
For instance one dealership told me it would cost over $1000 for the tow hitch while another quoted me less than $700. While one place offered the base vehicle for less it was also the dealership with the most expensive add-ons.
My husband and I decided to try our hand at negotiating and visited the one dealership that didn’t take the no-haggle approach. We walked in with an email from the dealership offering the lowest price and asked if the salesman could do any better. It was the same person that had responded to my email inquiries and when he pointed out why his prices were valid I referenced the detailed information I previously found online. I think I could have haggled a little more with him, but I felt good with the price we were offered.
Even if he hadn’t matched the price or offered us a lower number his prices were still the best after we factored in the add-ons we wanted. We came to an agreement on the pricing and were then sent to speak to someone else in the servicing department about the extra options. My husband was able to negotiate a little on those too.
Before the Internet individuals would spend hours negotiating prices. When they finally agreed on a price it was difficult to know whether or not they got a good deal on their vehicle. These days with the help of Edmunds.com and a little research from the comfort of your own home you can feel good about the price you pay. You can start the ball rolling on negotiations before you even set foot in a showroom.
My best advice is to get the facts and start a bidding war through online inquiries. By the time you show up to buy the car you sit down, agree to the price and write a check. It took a lot of research and time to crunch numbers, but by the time we arrived at the dealership it couldn’t have been any easier.
The last time I bought a new car the year was 1999. All of our current cars were built over a decade ago and it feels strange to think we might buy something new, rather than buying unwanted cars from old family members and friends. That’s the way we received our last three vehicles.
Rather than taking the old fashioned route of going into a dealership and haggling I found the lowest price all from the comfort of my living room. I emailed the four main Toyota dealerships in our area and priced the exact same make and model with the majority of features I wanted.
I have a feeling we’ll try to haggle a little bit when we arrive tomorrow, (there are still a few kinks to work out), but I hope we’ll be driving a new car by the end of the day. Wish me luck. I hate the very idea of walking into a car dealership.
I did not have a good experience when I bought my car back in 1999. The salesman told me I would receive floor mats then tricked me into signing paperwork that said I shouldn’t receive any additional options. The original salesman told me it was included in the base price. I later learned that he was lying.
I walked out of the dealership with those floor mats but I almost cried to get them. I had never spent so much money on one thing in my life and I couldn’t believe the dealership was trying to cheat me out of an extra $200.
Let’s hope tomorrow goes better! It’s time to pass my car onto my husband, (it gets much better mileage than his current vehicle), and this new one will be roomy enough to carry something other than my son’s stroller in the trunk.