Posts filed under ‘spending money’
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.
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.
Over the past fourteen years my husband and I have owned five vehicles, which included the following:
- 1994 Oldsmobile Regency Elite
- 1998 Jeep Wrangler
- 1999 Toyota Camry
- 1999 Ford Explorer Sport
- 2000 Honda Civic
We purchased the Explorer Sport and Civic new off the lot. The Oldsmobile, Camry and Wrangler were all purchased used from either friends or family.
We paid cash for all of the cars except the Honda Civic. I financed that car through the dealer and paid off the loan within one year. I sold it five years later because my medical problems made it difficult to climb in and out of and painful to drive.
Believe it or not I replaced that reliable, gas efficient vehicle for a 1994 Oldsmobile. It was not the most financially sound decision I’ve ever made, but I needed a larger vehicle that was more comfortable to drive. Rather than purchasing another new car I sunk $900 into the old clunker. In retrospect it was a horrible decision. I spent thousands of dollars in an attempt to keep it running and ultimately ended up donating it to charity.
On the very day my Oldsmobile was towed out of the driveway I purchased a Toyota Camry from my grandmother. The timing couldn’t have been any better. The new to me car was literally owned by a little old lady who only drove it to the grocery store.
I currently use the Toyota as my primary vehicle. It is the only car we own with a functioning back seat. The jeep doesn’t have a back seat at all and the front seats in the Ford Explorer are always breaking so I don’t trust putting my son in the seats behind us.
The Jeep is a gas guzzler so I’d really like my husband to start using the Toyota as his commuter car. It’ll definitely save us money on gas, plus it has four doors, which will make it easier for him to share the driving when he goes out to eat with his employees and coworkers.
I’m a little nervous about purchasing a new vehicle. For the past fourteen years all of our cars, (except the ones we bought new), have been purchased from friends and family. This will be the first vehicle we’ve bought in a very long time from someone we don’t know.
I’m also struggling with the preowned versus new scenario. I’m a little nervous about buying a car from someone who may not have taken good care of the car or performed regular oil changes. I had very bad experiences with the used car my dad bought me when I turned sixteen.
As you can see from the dates our cars were built we tend to hold onto our vehicles for as long as possible, (the exception was the Civic which was just to uncomfortable for me to continue driving), so I definitely want to purchase a car with a good reliability rating that will stand the test of time.
We aren’t in need of a new car immediately, but it would certainly help to have a slightly larger vehicle that can transport clothes, toys and other items between our house in Maryland and the one in North Carolina. Also, as our son gets older I’d like to be able to take his playmate and her father on field trips or take my parents to the beach with us. That really isn’t possible in our current car.
So, is it time for us to buy a new car? If so should we look for preowned vehicles or buy new?
Last night a friend of mine asked me a money related question and I thought I’d post it here to see what my wonderful readers have to say. Imagine you are shopping for clothes. The store is holding a sale where you can save $20 if you buy $80 worth of merchandise.
You browse the racks and find a dress you’d like to buy for $50. In your head you know that you don’t really need this dress, but you like it and decide it’s worth the money.
Now you are faced with a dilemma. Do you continue browsing for additional items in the hopes of finding another article of clothing that costs $30 or do you forgo the $20 savings and walk out of the store with only one item.
You know that it will be next to impossible to find an item that costs exactly $30, so you stand in the middle of the store contemplating your options. Odds are that you will find something that costs more than $30 and so you will pay an additional $10 plus any additional cost over $80.
The $20 savings is tempting. You are already planning to spend $50, so adding another $10 to buy an additional item seems to make sense, but is it really the right move? Is there a minimum or maximum threshold for this type of thing? Would you feel okay spending an additional $10 or $15, but not an additional $20?
Have you been faced with this scenario and if so what did you do?
My husband is adorable. Every year he remembers to order flowers for my mom and grandmother. What a good son-in-law, right? The trouble is he spends a lot of money each year shipping them out on Valentine’s Day.
Buying flowers online is expensive enough, but shipping and handling can often cost another $20 to $25, especially if you want your recipients to receive them on Valentine’s Day.
So I nearly passed out when my husband told me he spent nearly $400 buying my mom, grandmother, mother-in-law and I flowers for Valentine’s Day. Of course, each of us live at a different address and four deliveries quickly added up to over $100 worth of shipping costs.
So what’s a frugal girl to do? I’m happy that my husband cares enough about me and the rest of our family to buy flowers, but I can’t get over that price tag.
My husband says it’s only once a year and it makes everyone feel special. When I told him we could pick up flowers from the grocery store and deliver them he said it’s not the same.
So I said next year he should ship me food instead. While flowers are pretty I don’t think they’d be as enjoyable as an equally expensive box of chocolate covered strawberries.
This is one of those random hodge-podge posts. You know the kind where you start writing about one thing and quickly find yourself thinking about another, so rather than breaking them up you toss them all into the same post and call it a day.
It seems 2013 has continued right where 2012 left off. In the year of let’s see if every appliance in our house can unexpectedly break. We started off last week with a broken garbage disposal. An $89 fix, which took the plumber all of two minutes to fix and a broken laptop display on my MacBook Pro. We also need an entirely new air conditioning unit and exchanger at our beach house in North Carolina. That will add a hefty $9000 to this year’s maintenance bills.
After dealing with power outages over the last few years my husband decided to throw in the towel and order a generator. I was already to move to a new house with underground power lines, but alas that doesn’t appear to be in the cards for me. In order to install a generator we required a new meter from Washington Gas, a new pipe that can support the pressure required by the generator and, of course, a new generator. We had three quarters of the work completed last week. My son managed to sleep through the sound of men drilling holes into cement, but somehow wakes when he hears the floorboards outside of his bedroom creak. I’ll never understand how that’s possible.
This weekend my husband and I spent a good two or three hours in the kitchen cooking up new recipes. I’m always hesitant to try new meals because you never know if you’ll like the flavors once everything melds together. I always tweak the recipes ever so slightly based on ingredients we have on hand, for example I skipped the mint in the wrap recipe because I didn’t have any. I’m happy to say that everything we prepared turned out pretty tasty.
Here are links to the three recipes we tried:
- Curried Chicken & Apple Wraps
- Butter Chicken (Indian Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce)
- Baked Potato Soup (We’ve made this one once or twice before)
Lastly my husband and I are hiring a babysitter for the very first time. Up until now a family member has always been available to watch my son. I have absolutely no idea how much to pay a 14 year old. If it makes any difference my son will be asleep the entire time.
A few days ago I found myself shopping for interactive story buddies, (otherwise known as talking stuffed animals), at Hallmark. My son absolutely loves books and I thought he might enjoy snuggling with a cuddly toy that sings, barks and makes other fun noises when you read out loud.
Before heading out to the store I searched online for the cheapest prices. I found Jingle, (the holiday inspired Hallmark dog), on sale for $8.73, but by the time I reached the checkout page it was completely sold out. Those silly stuffed animals retail for $34.95 so $8.73 would’ve been an incredible price!
I figured there had to be some for sale on eBay. I checked out the auctions but found most were selling for roughly $35. Some were slightly more and some slightly less, but by the time you added in shipping most were in the $30 to $40 ballpark.
I had no intention of buying my fourteen month old son a $35 stuffed animal. In fact if I hadn’t seen the cheap price at Hallmark I probably wouldn’t have had the bright idea to buy this toy in the first place.
I decided to call the Hallmark store closest to my home to inquire about prices. It turns out that our local store was selling them at 50% off. $17.95 was still more than I really wanted to spend, but I couldn’t seem to get the idea out of my head so I buckled my son into the backseat of the car and drove off in search of it. (Important lesson: Try a brick-and-mortar store before shelling out money on eBay. eBay prices aren’t always the cheapest.)
All of the Christmas items were marked down 75%. Recordable storybooks were on sale for $4.95 and the second and third books in the “Jingle” series were $2.49 each. I bought a couple of recordable storybooks, (my son received one from my parents for Easter and absolutely loves it), and the two Jingle books along with the Jingle stuffed animal.
When I got back into the car I logged onto eBay and searched for the two books I just purchased. I was astounded to find them selling for $13 to $17 a piece. The retail price of each book was only $9.95 and I’d just paid $2.49 each for them.
That’s when I discovered the value of limited time offerings. This year Hallmark designed the 2012 Jingle toy and compatible books. They won’t sell the same toy again next year. They may sell a newer version next year, but odds are it won’t be compatible with the older model. If you don’t buy the books now you may not have the opportunity to do so in the future.
This once a year offering causes people to log on to eBay in high numbers. Let’s say your wife bought you two of the three 2012 superhero ornaments. If you feel your collection won’t be complete until you find Captain America then you’ll log on to eBay and spend three to four times the original retail price in order to complete your collection. Lucky for you someone in the secondary market probably has what you want. Unfortunately the item you want may come with a very hefty price tag.
Apparently many people already know this. Google for items to sell on eBay and you’ll come across all sorts of information about making money from selling Hallmark ornaments. This also explains why I once saw a woman buy twenty identical Barbie ornaments from a Hallmark store the day after Christmas. Perhaps they were some sort of a special holiday collection. Apparently star trek, star wars and barbie ornaments all sell for big bucks.
This is just one of the many reasons I’m not a collector. I don’t want to pay three to four times the retail price for an ornament that sits on my Christmas tree for a few days a year. Of course, if my son falls in love with this little Jingle toy and something awful happens, (it breaks, gets lost, etc.), I’m sure I’ll head back to eBay and shell out big bucks for another one.
I subscribe to a bunch of party related blogs. I have no idea why I do this. I rarely throw parties, I’m not particularly crafty and I can’t imagine sitting around creating handmade centerpieces, gift bags and favors. Despite these facts I am absolutely mesmerized by the colorful images. In fact, while I skip over most of the blogs in my RSS reader I will without a doubt scan through the beautiful party pictures and dream of a world in which I have the patience and craftiness to attempt even one of the Martha Stewart like projects.
Until a few days ago I merely looked at the photos and thought about how cute our house would look all filled with handmade decorations. Until a few days ago the pictures and ideas remained on my computer. Until a few days ago when my husband attempted to toss a happy birthday banner into my shopping cart. “I can make something cuter than that,” I told him. It was shiny and glittery and well kind of tacky and I just didn’t want to hang it from our wall. I wanted to reproduce one of the adorable banners I saw on the Internet.
The idea seemed pretty simple. The next day I gathered up my son, my purse and a flyer from the local craft store and set out to make a homemade banner. Initially I wanted to make one from fabric, but shopping on Columbus day was not a wise idea. The line to cut fabric was ten people long and I was carrying my son in my arms. Nope, not gonna wait for that. I found a few fabric squares, which were more expensive then cutting fabric, but also ensured I could buy fabrics of varying designs. The trouble is I had no plan. I didn’t know how big the letters should be, how much fabric I would need, what colors exactly I wanted to buy. I grabbed a bunch, not knowing if it would be enough, and added three rolls of ribbon to my basket.
Oh, but on my way to the checkout lane I passed by the cake decorating section. I’m going to make a simple box cake for my son, but I hadn’t thought about decorating it. The next thing I know I’m buying cake decorating supplies, which by the way I’ve never tried to use before.
I got home and laid everything out on the dining table. That’s when I realized I’d need to iron the fabric before I can make use of it. Oh bother. And I’m not sure I bought enough of each color because I want ‘Happy’ and ‘Birthday’ in one color and my son’s name in another.
So I skip that task and move on to creating a miniature banner for his birthday cake. I google for printable shapes, dig through my old craft stash for alphabetic stickers and spend the next hour and a half making a mini-pendant banner for his cake.
Ok, looking good, although I’m not sure that the banner will actually stay in place when I stick it on the cake, but that’s a concern for another day. Back to the main ‘Happy Birthday” banner.
Hmmm, maybe I should make the banner out of paper rather than fabric. That sure seems a whole lot easier, but I don’t have enough craft paper in the house.
In the mean time I decide to head to the party store in search of plastic cutlery. I know it’s not the eco-friendly choice, but with roughly 16 friends and family members attending I don’t want to spend the evening at the kitchen sink. I leave the party store with much more than cutlery. I buy a cupcake stand, streamers, more ribbons, bottles of bubbles, cupcake holders and a whole host of other things I didn’t know I wanted until I walked into that store. Will I really put a cone shaped birthday hat on my son, who knows, but add that to the basket for another $2.
Still not sure about the fabric or paper idea I also head out to Michael’s where I buy not only paper but more ribbons and streamers in case I want to decorate the little guy’s high chair.
In total I spent roughly $50 on a bunch of paper, ribbons, fabric and party supplies that I may or may not use. Martha Stewart I am not, but I’m gonna try to make some homemade decorations for my son’s birthday. Yup. Gonna try it.
Either way I’m chalking it up to the excitement of being a first-time mom. I’m just so darn excited that my son is turning one. It’s been an amazing year and I can’t wait to celebrate the special occasion!
I want to thank everyone who commented on last week’s post Struggling to Spend Money on Myself. I’ve taken a lot of time over the past few days to consider my options. I thought long and hard about what I like to do, what I don’t like to do and everything in between. Although I need things like new clothes or new shoes from time to time I’m really not a big shopper. I also hate to have clutter in my house so the idea of buying new stuff to fill our home doesn’t really thrill me.
I quickly realized that I’d prefer to spend money on experiences and services rather than objects. I sat on the couch, closed my eyes and asked myself a question. What do I want this money to bring me? My first thought: relaxation. I want the money to ease my stress and worries. I want it to make me a happier, well rested, relaxed individual.
So in response to the feedback and my own desire for change I’ve decided to hire a cleaning crew to dust, mop, vacuum, scrub the tile in my bathrooms and do whatever else it takes to make my home shine. Given the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom who spends the majority of her waking hours in and around the house this is certainly not the frugal decision, but it is nonetheless the decision I’ve chosen to make.
While I love to organize and declutter I absolutely hate to clean it. I’ve splurged on a cleaning crew a handful of times over the past few years, (usually buying discounted service through Groupon or Living Social), but I’ve never consistently hired anyone to clean our house.
I’m not sure it fits the bill for ‘fun money’, but it will definitely help me feel more at ease and relaxed. While I don’t mind cleaning the dishes and wiping down the counter-tops I absolutely hate cleaning bathroom tiles and scrubbing toilets. We may keep our 1950s bathroom decor for the rest of our lives, but at least the grout won’t be dirty and the tub will be sparkly and white. My husband and I aren’t particularly messy people, but let’s face it dust and dirt accumulate pretty quickly in a house and I haven’t been happy playing with my son in a dirty, dusty house.
I’ve hired a cleaning crew to clean the main two levels of our house every three weeks. I thought about using them monthly, but I think things will get pretty dirty in a month.
Since house cleaning benefits the entire family and not just me, I also plan to schedule one massage a month and I’ll use the money I earn from this blog, eBay sales and other random forms of income to pay for it. (Thanks commenters for that great suggestion!)
It’s not a frugal decision, but it sure feels good to make it. What do you think?
Everyone says it’s wise to buy a car and stick with it as it ages. After all, it makes no sense to take on a car payment if your old car is in perfectly drivable condition. I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment. For the most part my husband and I tend to purchase our vehicles and stick with them for years.
We purchased five vehicles between 2000 and 2009; a 1999 Camry, 1999 Explorer, 1994 Oldsmobile, 1998 Jeep and a 2000 Civic. Two were picked up new off the lot, the other three were used. We paid cash for all of the cars except the Honda Civic, though I did pay off the loan within one year.
We keep detailed records of all of our financial transactions so I decided to see how much money we really saved by sticking with older cars. I had a sneaky suspicion that we spent quite a bit on maintenance issues over the past few years and I wondered exactly how much we paid to keep each vehicle running.
The numbers were astounding. From 2004 (the year we started keeping detailed numbers) until 2012 we spent over $20,000 on our vehicles!
In 2006 I sold the 2000 Civic for $9,500. In it’s place I purchased a 1994 Oldsmobile. I’ve written about the decision to sell the Civic and buy the Olds a few times before. After my surgery in 2005 I needed a larger car. The Civic was too small and too low to drive comfortably, so I sold the Civic and purchased the Olds for $950. Unfortunately, it quickly became a hole in the ground that sucked up all of our money. By the time we got rid of that piece of junk, (which by the way was the most comfortable car I’ve ever ridden in), we shelled out over $4,000 in repairs. As the car repairs kept mounting I gave up on the car and donated it to charity.
The Camry was purchased from my grandmother in 2007. We spent $6,271 on various repairs. $1,000 was reimbursed by my grandmother as there were a few small issues when we purchased it. We tried to keep the repairs a secret from her, but as soon as she heard there were issues with the car she offered to rectify the situation and promptly wrote us a check to cover our expenses.
My husband’s Explorer racked up an additional $4976. Unfortunately, some of these repairs included recalls that we did not know about until after the car was fixed. (In other words we encountered the issue before the company recalled the vehicle.) Seven recalls have been issued for that car since my husband drove it off the lot!
Finally we spent $5149 on repairing our Jeep Wrangler. We purchased this vehicle used from a former coworker and friend of my husband’s. We bought the car before the summer began and didn’t realize the air conditioner wasn’t working. While you can certainly drive a jeep without the air conditioning, (most of the time we drive it with the top off), there are those times when you want cool air. For example, a rainy day in the middle of the summer or stuck on the highway in traffic. Fixing the air conditioner and issues with the heater that followed cost us roughly $3,000.
We definitely made bad judgements concerning the purchase and maintenance on the Oldsmobile, but even putting that $4,000 aside we spent $16,000 on our other three vehicles. Is it just me or does that seem like a lot of money? Broken down across five years that roughly $3,200 per year. Maybe that’s not a lot of money to keep three cars running? What do you think?