Archive for March, 2011

Feeling Conflicted About Spending

My husband and I have been spending crazy amounts of money lately. We’ve had a good deal of work performed around the house lately and we have a few more items on the list that I’d really rather pay someone to do.

Now that our windows and doors are installed I’d like to get the outside trim painted and there are a couple of rooms in the house in need of a paint job too. Though I know we can paint our own home I’d really prefer for someone else to do it. Our house has a lot of lead paint, particularly in and around the outside of our home and I’d really rather let that a professional deal with that.

Plus my husband and I always seem to fight when we paint together and truth-be-told we never do it as well as the professionals. I can paint the inside rooms, but I’d really prefer a professional to strip off the old paint outside and repaint. Of course, given our current luck with contractors I’m not sure how good I feel about hiring another one.

In addition to spending money for the house I’ve also spent some money on myself. I recently purchased five new summer dresses. I plan to return three of them after trying them on for my husband and receiving the thumbs down, but I will keep at least two of them. I also bought a nice, comfortable button down shirt and I hope to find some comfortable leggings that I can wear under the dresses. They are just a bit shorter than I would normally wear to work, so the leggings will definitely help me feel more comfortable.

I’ve also been giving more and more thought to remodeling our bathrooms. This has been on my to-do list forever, but now that the windows are in place I’d really like to knock this out too. I plan to call a contractor, (one that has done amazing work for us in the past), just to get an estimate.

I figure the best approach is to get an idea of how much it’ll cost us and then start saving for it. Plus, if we keep this goal in mind my husband will be less apt to spend the money on something else. Hint, hint.

After this we really need to get back to basics. To be honest I’m completely conflicted about spending the money. I love the enhancements we’ve made, but every time I think about the future I wonder, are we stupid to spend so much money. While I would like to retire sooner than later I also know that in order to enjoy your life and your home, sometimes you have to spend money.

March 30, 2011 at 3:05 AM 4 comments

Unhappy with a Company’s Work

My husband and I recently contracted a company to install new doors and windows in our sixty year old house. So far the experience has been less than stellar. For starters, the company accidentally ordered the wrong size windows, but only realized this after ripping the original windows out. They were able to temporarily screw the old windows back in place, but we were left with bare wood around the frames for over a month while the new ones were reordered and shipped.

The contractors who performed the work did not lay any sheets or paper down while performing their work. While I put out mats for them to wipe their feet upon entering our home many of them managed to drag a fair amount of mud and dirt onto the floors of our home. While much of our house is hardwood the rooms with carpet now contain quite a few black and brown stains from their carelessness.

Despite the fact that our home contains lead paint I saw little regard for the contamination of paint chips in and around our house. Large chunks of paint were found in the small box gardens outside of our sun room as well as on the brick steps and back patio. I witnessed the contractors throwing a fair amount of material directly on the ground. I was under the impression that all of this debris should have been placed on special material which should have been rolled up and properly discarded after their work was complete.

For safety reasons the windows in our basement were previously covered by steel bars. When we agreed to purchase the windows we were told the bars could remain, this was reiterated to us on more than one occasion when the company came out to measure. However, on the day of installation the bars were removed and the contractors informed us that there was no way to install the windows without first removing them. It will cost us a fair amount of money to replace these.

Lastly, the front door that was delivered and installed contains a mail slot that is less than 10 inches from the ground. According to postal service regulations a mail slot should be at least 31 inches off the ground, which means the post office can refuse to deliver mail to us until this issue is corrected. We cannot place another mail slot in the door for a multitude of reasons including that it might not be possible, because the door contains a fair amount of glass, and would look absolutely ridiculous with two mail slots on it. We cannot remove the original mail slot because it is in essence in a hole in the door.

I cannot believe that a door company would install a mail slot on a door that does not meet postal service regulations. If a mail slot could not have been located in a better place on the door then we should have been informed at the time of ordering. Had we known this was going to be an issue we could have ordered a different design. My husband and I go out of town quite frequently and we do not want to move to a system where we have to put our mail on hold every time we leave for an extended weekend.

While I am pleased with the finished product of most of the doors and windows in my home. I am befuddled by the number of issues we encountered and witnessed since this renovation began. I plan to ask the company for a discount on the overall cost of this order and installation.

But I was wondering if any of my amazing readers have encountered an issue like this before? If so what was the outcome of your situation? Do you think this is a lost cause?

March 28, 2011 at 3:20 AM 7 comments

How Does Barnes and Noble Stay in Business

Every so often I go through a must-read book phase. I’ll go for months on end without reading and then I’ll suddenly crave the pages of a good novel. I haven’t purchased a book for quite awhile, but I have a Groupon to Barnes and Noble burning a hole in my pocket so I thought I’d go online in search of something new to read.

Honestly I don’t know how Borders and Barnes and Noble stay in business. The cost per book and DVD is so much higher than Amazon! One book cost $12 on Amazon and $19 on Barnes and Noble.

I simply don’t want to pay $7 more for a book that I know I can buy cheaper elsewhere. I placed a whole bunch of items in my Barnes and Noble shopping cart, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of paying more money by purchasing my books there.

I paid $10 for the $20 Groupon to Barnes and Noble, so I will save money, but I think I would’ve saved more money or close to as much money simply by shopping on Amazon in the first place. I considered purchasing one book and one DVD tonight. The two items combined cost $12 less on and I only saved $10 by purchasing the Groupon.

Of course, my Groupon is set to expire in a couple of weeks, so I need to find something to purchase sooner than later. I have a couple of books in mind, but nothing earth shattering.

If you’ve read any good novels lately let me know. I’d love to find something new and enticing!

March 24, 2011 at 2:20 AM 9 comments

A Round Trip Commute in Half the Time

I drove to my new office location today. This morning’s commute took a whopping 22 minutes, this afternoon’s commute just over 30. I can’t stop smiling at the realization that I can now drive back and forth in the same amount of time it previously took me to drive just one way!

At my old job I would never leave the office between 5 and 7 for fear of getting stuck in two hours worth of traffic on the beltway. So if my meetings wrapped up late I would force myself to stay at my desk and work an extra hour or two just to let the time go by. That might sound crazy, but it was much less stressful to sit at my desk then cram myself into my car and inch my way home.

Today I left at the ripe old hour of 5:30. While that might not sound remarkable to any of you, I must say that I have not commuted during that time of day for over four years! Can you imagine that?

This evening after I wrapped up my work I decided it was time to go home. I wasn’t panicked about the commute home, I wasn’t worried about the status of my neck and back after driving for two hours. Nope, none of that. I simply got in my car and drove the 9 miles.

I felt remarkably free and liberated by the mere concept of leaving work when I was finished working. Crazy, huh?

March 22, 2011 at 2:05 AM 4 comments

The Long Drive Home

I left work at quarter after four today. I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. I didn’t want to sit in my car for an hour and a half drive home, but I knew my fate the minute the last meeting of the day ran well over schedule.

I gathered my belongings, rode the elevator down to the third floor and stepped out of the building for the last time as an employee in this particular office.

When I saw the brake lights up ahead only fifteen minutes into my drive I knew it was going to be a long hike home. I rolled up the windows and screamed. Literally screamed. That feeling of utter frustration and angst that can only be released with one good yell.

This has been an absolutely atrocious week at work and I have to say that it felt quite fitting to drive home on my very last day on this job in a sea full of traffic.

Starting next week my 29.1 mile drive will be reduced to 9.9 miles. My average one to one an a half hour commute will be reduced to a mere thirty minutes! To say that I’m giddy at the thought of avoiding traffic is a ridiculous understatement!

March 19, 2011 at 2:00 AM 5 comments

How Do I Stop Overthinking Every Purchase?

I love taking trips to the store with my husband. We have so much fun goofing around together.

Today we ran a bunch of errands that landed us at CVS, Walmart, Harris Teeter and Rite Aid. I came armed with coupons and sales circulars. I knew exactly what I intended to purchase at each location and how much the entire shopping trip would cost me. I realize that sounds ridiculously anal, but it’s the best way to bargain shop and stock up on necessary household items when prices are low.

Actually I’ve been much less obsessive about saving money lately. I stopped shopping at Rite Aid and CVS on a weekly basis. I now travel there only when there is a really great deal and only when I think we will need a product relatively soon. While I used to shop weekly, I bet I’ve only gone once in the last three or four weeks. I take this as a sign of great progress.

When I shop by myself I am very good at avoiding temptation. I stick to the list and rarely deviate from my original intentions, but when my husband comes along for the ride I never know what will happen.

I definitely spend more money when he’s with me. He thinks nothing of adding various products to our cart regardless of whether or not they are on sale. I know it’s cheaper to purchase lunch meat and make our own sandwiches, but I know he’ll head to the sandwich counter where someone will make them for us.

I know he’ll reach for the container of soup although Harris Teeter isn’t running it’s monthly buy-one-get-one sale and I know that he’ll think nothing of buying a box of popcorn although it’s not on sale that week and I don’t have a coupon.

When we shop together I find his attitude contagious and I watch myself adding items that I never would have picked up if I were alone. When I’m with him I think, that nine-layer dip looks good and that brie cheese looks unbelievably tasty. I’m always amazed by how much extra food shows up on the conveyor belt at the checkout counter.

I still cringe a little as I watch the register screen fill with full-priced numbers, but I’m so happy to be with my husband, that it makes my anal, saving tendencies seem much less important. In fact, I think going out with him helps me put things back into perspective.

We make good money and we don’t have to use coupons for everything we buy. So how do I get myself to stop overthinking every purchase when he’s not with me?

March 13, 2011 at 1:15 AM 7 comments

A Gift Card Shopping Spree

I haven’t gone shopping in weeks, maybe even months. I haven’t been to the mall or any stores other than the grocery and drugstore. The truth is that I just haven’t needed anything, so I kept myself out of the stores where temptations may arise.

I knew I couldn’t avoid shopping forever, but I’m pretty excited that I lasted as long as I did. I need to buy a gift for my sister-in-law’s birthday so I’ll break the long spell and head out shopping. I have a stash of gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, so I figure I’ll use one to purchase her gift and then use the rest for a mini shopping spree.

I’m more immune to caving in to my desires these days. The truth is, I’ve spent so much time decluttering my home that I can’t stand the idea of bringing too much back into it.

Rather than shopping for myself, I plan to look around for gifts for my niece, nephew and brother who all have birthdays in the next few months.

My goal is to purchase gifts that can be consumed in some way or another, so I don’t add to the clutter in my brother’s home either. I can buy a whole bunch of food based items from Williams-Sonoma and lots of arts and crafts from Michael’s.

And if I have some money left over I might just go on a small shopping spree and buy some fun stuff for myself!

March 10, 2011 at 3:30 AM 3 comments

This Little Blog’s Five Year Anniversary!

On March 4, 2006 I wrote the very first post for One Frugal Girl. I can’t believe five years have passed since I started this blog! I was in such a different place in my life at that time. I felt physically broken. I had undergone a difficult and painful surgery and was only a few months into a recovery that would last for years to come.

When I started this blog I was looking for a distraction. I needed some way to get my mind off of my medical troubles and onto other things. I was always interested in personal finance and thought it would be the perfect outlet for me. I was thrilled to read my very first comment and even happier to find that more and more people began reading and subscribing each day.

I am so grateful to all of you who have left comments or sent emails throughout the years and although we’ve never met in person I feel like I’ve gotten to know some of you quite intimately.

While I still struggle with physical pain, my overall health has improved ten-fold since 2006. Over the years I’ve figured out ways to deal with my physical limitations. Although I still throw the occasional pity party, I’m much better at dealing with the cards I’ve been given in life. In fact, in many ways I feel that my medical problems have made me a better, more alert, more introspective, more self-aware, more compassionate person.

I want to thank all of you who have made your presence on this blog known! You helped me dig myself out of a dark time in my life and since then things have continued to get better and better.

March 6, 2011 at 3:55 AM 6 comments

The Little Joys in Life

When I was in elementary school I had a pen pal from Finland. I can’t remember how the school hooked the two of us up, but we continued to write letters for months after the initial assignment was over.

I loved to receive those letters. My pen pal would draw all sorts of pictures representing the history of his homeland and I would send back all sorts of interesting stickers and images of the U.S. Since we were young we wrote our letters on those enormous pieces of long lined white paper and I remember unfolding each letter bit by bit until I could spread it out on the table in front of me.

I kept those letters locked in a tiny chest in my house for years. I wish I still had one. I would love to track down my pen pal and find out what became of him.

Isn’t it funny to think that a tiny, inexpensive stamp sent those letters half way around the world and brought me so much joy as a child.

I don’t know what got me thinking about that today, but I can’t get the image of those letters out of my head. It is such a happy memory.

March 4, 2011 at 4:00 AM 4 comments

Moving on to a New Job

So it looks like my interviews went well enough for the hiring manager to offer me the position. I’m set to start my new job, (at the same company), in roughly three weeks. I’m completely conflicted on this move. In fact, it’s funny how many mixed feelings I have about the situation.

I’ve been in the same place for so long that I know a ton of people and most importantly I know the people that can help make things happen and get things done. In my new job I won’t know anyone. Of course, this is also a good thing, because new people can mean new energy and new excitement.

I’m not entirely thrilled by the job itself, but then again I’m not thrilled by the prospects at my current job either. While the technology might be slightly more outdated where I’m headed the business is more interesting. That means my technical skills might fall a little, but at least my mind will be occupied by interesting problems and complex systems.

Of course, the best thing about the new position is the distance from my house. I’ll trim nearly 20 miles off of my commute along with a $2 toll. Between driving fewer miles and dealing with less traffic I expect to save a minimum of 25 minutes on my drive to and from work each day! To think that I can trim nearly an hour off of my daily commute is remarkable and regardless of all of the other decisions involved in choosing to switch jobs this one was the most convincing!

March 2, 2011 at 3:45 AM 3 comments


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