Monday, February 23, 2015

That Time I Got Tricked...

Last week was a long and tedious week at work, which caused many tempers to flair. But what really set it off right was the oil change.

Yes, the car was due for an oil change and being the frugal one had a coupon and went to the location (which shall remain unnamed) early in the morning. My goal was to be able to get out in under an hour and give myself enough time for a bigger breakfast and some tidying up before heading off to a long day of work.

At first everything seemed to be going okay, they accepted the coupon and told me it would be only a small while. I sat down with my book, across from an older couple and then the wait began...

After an hour I went up to them and asked, how much longer and they said shortly, of course, everything will be finished...

And then it became an hour and a half...

And as we approached two hours my patience was for the most part worn thin.

After multiple times of pestering that I had to get going only then did they tell me they were done and the total.


Yes, I told them that this was too much and I had asked for a conventional oil change. Was I upset yes, but after two hours and only enough time to get to work without a minute to spare, there was nothing I could do but pay and leave fuming.

It makes me upset that my budgeted amount was totally ruined and they clearly took advantage of me and a new car. Honestly, it's a lesson learned which means from now on, the boyfriend will be coming with me to all future car appointments.

Have you ever had a frustrating experience that you write off as a lesson learned? 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Days off and Frugal Ways...

While working during the week, do you ever daydream what it would be like to explore your hometown or a neighboring city without the flock of annoying tourists? Or just even take a day off for the fun of it?

All that artwork and so little time...

Besides spending the whole day at the spa (because wouldn't that be awesome) there are so many exciting and frugal things to do that can occupy your whole day.

Exploring the local library and possibly checking out books: Maybe you'll peruse the new books section and make your way over to the magazines for awhile. You never know what you'll find there and what you will end up checking out!

Really study the artwork at your local museum: Many museums give discounts during specific days which makes it an even better deal! Spend time really looking into the depths of a portrait or analyzing every angle of a sculpture.

Taking a long nature walk: Perhaps discovering a new park has been on your to do list for awhile. Or your usual walk has been interrupted by a few inches (or feet) of snow. Take a peek at what is open and meander around for a bit. At least it will give you some fresh air and some much needed Vitamin D!

Trying out a recipe that requires that extra effort: Whatever it might be, you know it's the recipe you love making, but on almost any other day, it would be midnight before you sat down to eat. Take the time to make it extra special either for your or your loved ones.

Work on a project that has been left by the wayside: You know which one I'm talking about. That one exactly. The one that has been left on the side table in the spare bedroom that has not seen the light of day in over a year. Go ahead, just finish it off to check it off your checklist. The last 5% is the hardest but won't you feel a bit better?

Appreciate the time off: There are many people in the world who only dream of having a day off but have to work consistently to provide a home for their loved ones. Taking a few minutes out of the day to take a deep breath and find contentment is important.

Having a day or even a few days of relaxation doesn't have to be expensive. They can be even better if done during the week because you miss out on all the crowds.

What's your favorite frugal activity to do on your day off?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Back from Vacation...

Ahh, a small respite from the ever demanding world is what the bf and I took and how needed it was. Luckily I had set aside some money for just this months ago and the room expense wasn't something that needed to go on the credit card (well it did, but then paid off!).

What was really important about this vacation was not only that it was paid for from a specified savings account, but that it was all about resting and recharging. Appreciating the down time and one another. We had been busy working five and six day weeks, eating whatever was available and probably not the healthiest. 

Yes, at one point I thought about it, and really questioned about using the saved up money towards a vacation instead of an extra payment towards student loans. And then those thoughts made me realize that life isn't just about paying off debt and working towards the next goal, it is about enjoying it. That is why 'extra' money was found for dance classes. These are the small wonderful things that make life worth living. 

It also made me realize the difference between cheap and frugal. There are days where we are actively working towards our goals by not buying lunch out and skipping on things we may not need. However, the pursuit of being cheap consequently makes you a miser along the way. Everything is an expense that can be sacrificed. Nothing is really that important, health and happiness are sacrificed. A balance has to be found in how far anyone should go for a healthy bank account. 

In the end it was all worth it. We were able to experience a wonderful quaint town, consume some of the best food, and not worry about a single thing, except when our next nap would be.

Have you ever thought about using a goal - specific account for extra payments towards your debt? Did you do it or did you go through with the intended goal? 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

An Un-Resolution Type of Year...

Last year, I was so interested in having goals written down and posted everywhere so wherever my mind or body wandered to, they would consistently reappear. It became almost an obsession that got me somewhat farther in some goals and pretty much nowhere in others.

And this year, my friend wrote me a letter asking what mine would be this year. And she followed with, why not just skip them altogether?

I really stopped and thought about it. Why make resolutions that you will only look at months later and go, well that's too hard or I needed to have started earlier. Why give yourself such pressure early on?

With that in mind, I jotted down what would have been my resolutions for 2015 and instead made them into daily goals or habits that would slowly but surely change the outcome of my year.

A few of them include drinking more water, practicing a skill everyday, reading for a few minutes (either morning or night). They might not seem major, but they do add up to about an hour everyday. And perhaps they still are in some way resolutions, but there is no outside pressure to go above and beyond each day to achieve some high and mighty end goal, that if not checked off, leaves me with the feeling of guilt and regret on the last day of the year.

These types of daily goals are allowing me to focus on each day and on what is in front of me and not always what's ahead of me. The end goal is easy to come up with, read 100 books in the year, but the breakdown has stopped me from procrastinating.

And in all honesty, I feel a lot happier. There is no big wall or obstacles that need to be accomplished at the end of the year. The focus on the here and now is making me stop and enjoy each and every small task. And if I fail, it's okay, the world will still be there tomorrow.

Any resolutions that you are working on, picking up or thinking about finally laying them all to rest?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Slowing Down By Being Sick...

It's that wonderful time of the year again, no not some new resolutions, but the season of the cold and flu. You know it's coming because your body is telling you there is something slightly off. You deny it, or you start chugging OJ, but it's too late. The next day, you wake up not knowing whether you brushed your teeth and fed the dog. It takes all your energy to fall out of bed. This isn't your finest moment,  but it's the best time to slow down and take in the moment.

1. Take time to take care of yourself. The reason you probably got sick (because you know it's true) is that you have been working too much and trying to do everything at once. Take a day or two (or maybe three) to take a bath instead of a quick shower. To have a salad before your main course. To really let the stew simmer.

2. Catch up on the small things you have always meant to do. Maybe you have three episodes of that tv series left. Or 50 pages in that book by your bedside. Days like this make me feel lazy and like nothing was accomplished, so even getting something small like done makes me feel that much better.

3. Have a little treat. A bowl of ice cream.  A few pieces of candy. Your body does deserve it.

What's your favorite tip for your sick day? ( I will taking all into consideration these next few days...). 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

November Budget Recap

So here we go, another month and some more money spent!

Food is always my big budget breaker. But for some reason I didn't do too bad this month. Luckily, we didn't have to pay for Thanksgiving dinner, so that big expense was not in the picture.

For some reason gas and wine are together (necessary evils?). The bf bought a lot of my wine this month, which was super nice and this line does not depict how much I really do drink. As for gas, I visited my family, but my mother proceeded to pay for the small amount I used driving home. And it really does pay having a small fuel efficient car! 

I finally got my hair done, and it feels amazing! Having nice looking hair not only makes you feel better but also makes you look your best. Personal includes a pair of pants that needed to be bought for work and insoles for shoes. 

The hobby line is definitely a kicker! I finally am back into dancing but start up costs are quite a bit. Hopefully it will be less this month, until it's time to pay for classes next month! 

My income for this month was pretty high, considering I took a few days off around Thanksgiving. For rent, I pay the bf a proportion of my income and he uses it for household materials or incidentals and other bills. 

My total spending on the bottom could be lower on incidentals but it's pretty good considering my income. 

The amount put towards loans is a bit upsetting but better than nothing. They are both above the minimum payments, but with over 30k in debt, I really should make the effort of the extra $100 to $200 a month. 

For December, hopefully Christmas does not turn out to be too expensive, even though I've saved some money throughout the year, there is always the unexpected. There are also some pretty big bills coming up in January that need to be saved for (taxes, dance). So here's to making sure the budget keeps on working!  

How was November for you? What are you looking to change in December? 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

So, I Bought A Car... The Numbers...

As a follow up to my last post of buying a car, numbers were promised and here they are!

In total, the total bill for the car came out to be a whopping: $15k.

Yes, $15,000 for a depreciating asset. Kill me now.

Anyway, I put $5k, or a third, as a down payment, bringing my monthly payments to $230. However, minimum payments do not help in paying debts off early. I have started with including an extra hundred dollars every month and will re-evaluate at the end of the year how much more I can add.

As for other expenses, the car being a small one, requires $30 of gas every two weeks. As for repairs and the like, I've already started putting away a small amount of money each week to make sure that when needed it is already there!!!

As for student loans, I've managed to only pay off $3260 these past 14 months (ever since my grace period ended. It's far less than I would like to admit, but my income has recently only increased dramatically and I was more focused on saving rather than paying off debt.

So my total debt is now 10k plus $24,652.22 for a grand total of $34,652.22.

Wow, that's a lot of money... But it only makes my debt journey a bit more interesting... having a car really worth it?!