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A Black Friday Shopping Story

Please take this money, it is for Black Friday Shopping

I cannot believe it but I got caught up in BLACK FRIDAY shopping.  I mean I really can’t believe it.

I have to admit it…it was fun!

Let me share my shame.

I was enjoying a delightful and delicious Thanksgiving meal with family in Southern Maryland.  We do this every year and it is one of our favorite things.  So much so, although we were not due there until 2:30, Mirror Image wanted to leave early enough to arrive at 1:30.  That girl, she is an awesome eater.

Between eating and chatting, I perused the newspaper advertisements that both my mom and Auntie brought.  Sure there were a couple of interesting things but nothing I couldn’t live without.  Although I am not gonna lie, I wanted some of those copper pots everyone and their mother are hawking these days.

So after more eating and family gossip, we packed up the car with leftovers (very important) and turned in the direction of home.  Conveniently, there is a shopping mall on the way home and we stop every year “just to look” at the Black Friday deals.  I fully expected this to be like last year where we came, we saw and we left empty handed.  That was the plan.

The first thing I noticed was that it was almost 7pm and while there were shoppers, there were no crazy crowds.  The next thing I saw was my favorite game from childhood, SIMON, but souped up for the current generation.  I had to have it.  Once I decided on that first item, others seemed to just throw themselves into my arms:

  • 2 karaoke microphones (one for me, one for the office holiday party)
  • 1 Google Chromecast (my room)
  • 1 Roku Express (Mirror Image’s room)
  • 1 Google Home Assistant Mini
  • 1 Decorative pillow (Christmas present for my aunt)
  • Clothes (Mirror Image Christmas presents)

The monetary hit? $162.  I spent $162 on items I didn’t plan on purchasing!  Well it didn’t stop there.  I got up the next day (the actual Friday in Black Friday shopping) and while running errands, decided to go back to the store and get the special make up brushes Mirror Image had asked for as a surprise present.  Well the surprise was on me when I bought 2 sets (because I really needed one, too), and more clothes for her.

The price to play the Black Friday game?  Another $60.

So just over a couple hundred in 2 days for shopping, really impulse shopping.  For some, this wouldn’t seem too bad. For me, I felt almost out of control.  Shiny items hypnotized me (seriously, the karaoke microphone was rose gold in color), my childhood called to me in pretty flashes of color with the Simon game and my daughter, as lovely as she is, right by my side encouraging every purchase – wanting EVERY THING.  I was toast.

Ahh but for grace (and a much needed grace period), I am coming out of the shopping after-glow and have put many of the items in the bag to return.

Gone karaoke microphone! I will keep one for the party gift swap.

Gone make up brush set!  Mirror Image gets to keep hers and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gone Google Home Assistant and Chromecast – I watch too much television anyway.  (Hahaha, just kidding, there is no such thing as too much tv).

I expect to get back around $75.  Good thing too because today is Cyber Monday and I saw something I just have to have…

How were your Turkey shopping days?

Thrifty Image

My Mint Account Reveals

Mint

I have been a Mint user for a little over a year now and I LOVE IT. I love it so much I wish, even now, that the moment I first heard Jean Chatzky mention it on an episode of Money Matters that I had gotten up off the sofa right then and created my account rather than waiting for as long as I did. I should have hopped up the moment she said it was FREE.

The love I have must be obvious because in one 2 minute conversation with my mom, I convinced her to try it and now, she LOVES IT, TOO. This is not to be taken lightly.  My mom doesn’t really have a lot of patience for sitting at a computer, gathering ALL of the account numbers, passwords, secret questions and the like. Plus, she has a healthy distrust of the internet and its ongoing security issues that get played out on the evening news.  Think Target, Home Depot, Ashley Madison, etc. But if you were to ask her, she would admit to those 2-3 hours of setting up her account as the best investment of time she can remember.

It has been a game changer for me.

Before Mint, I would check my accounts regularly at different websites plus kept a general spreadsheet of my income and expenses but never, had I had the ability and desire to gather ALL of my accounts in one place on my own.  I think this largely had to do with not fully understanding the concept of net worth at the time.

With Mint, having almost all my accounts in one place takes allows me to know my net worth, my credit score, my due balances and most importantly, my financial trends. It is the TRENDS function that has me so excited right now.

I was playing around with the TRENDS function in a way I hadn’t before and was able to determine how I have been spending my money by category.  I was particularly interested in the area of Food and Dining – specifically the Groceries sub-category. With Mint, I can compare trends over time.  The options range among last seven days, last month 3 months, 12 months or the comparison can be customized for a particular investigating.

I beat myself up a lot because of the amount of money I spend on groceries each month. We are eaters in the Thrifty Image household. We like to eat, Mirror Image likes for me to cook and I take joy in our being able to come together over a delicious meal without the extra salt, fat or costs of eating out. But I really felt that the monthly costs were pretty high. So I took a look and compared my costs over the last 6 months with the previous six months then did the same with the year to date.

What a pleasant surprise!

I have spent approximately $1,000 less these last six months than I did in the previous six months on Groceries. And I know why. The Water Challenge in January and the current Meat Free March challenge. I have been perplexed by what has felt like excessive spending yet, the overall food category has gone done overall. Hurrah!

This is just one of the ways Mint helps me manage my money and gives me the tools to explore not just the money but better money management.  With all of the information in one place, it is so much easier to manage the money and understand the nuances. With Mint I see:

  • Cash (Savings) Account
  • Investment (403b, 401K, Roth IRA, Schwab One, Betterment)
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Housing Value (provide by Zillow)
  • Vehicle Value
  • Loans (Mortgage)

Accounts can be added (say you get a new credit card or open up a Betterment account) or they can be closed or deleted (perhaps your credit card number was stolen or your car was totaled and it doesn’t exist as an asset anymore). The only account I cannot currently see is Mirror Image’s Private College 529.  According to Mint, there needs to be a pent-up demand and I guess I am the only one with that account.  Another reason to transfer that account over to my State College Savings Plan!

Thrifty Image Mirror

Weekend Money #3

Girl Sitting on Money

This morning, as I was leaving the house to take my daughter to school when she pipes up “it’s Friday!  What fun thing are we going to do this weekend?”

That means the weekend is here and it is time to plan the money!

I am going to pre-spend here on this post, then reconcile on Monday.  I plan for this to be another avenue of accountability and budgeting.  So here we go:

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $20
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $45
  • Dollar Tree = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $0
  • Total = $138

Groceries – I don’t need too much in terms of groceries this weekend – fruit, fresh veggies and milk from Aldi. My freezer is already stuffed with ground turkey and lobster tails – the ingredients for some of Mirror Image’s favorite recipes.  I will be using those lobster tails for Valentine’s dinner on Sunday.

Gas – I read that gas got down to $27 per barrel on Thursday.  The lowest it has been since 2003. I am looking forward to feeling that relief at the gas station.

Dollar Tree – Mirror Image has been watching me tackle organization projects throughout the house all week.  Last night, with the help of these awesome spice jars from IKEA, we almost completely organized our kitchen spice situation.  That is until I accidentally knocked by brand new label maker into the sink.  I tried drying it out in rice overnight but I think it is dead and I will have to replace it. She was very helpful and so impressed, she asked if we could do the same in her room – “but make it look cool” .  I think we will start with some of these organization tools from the Dollar Tree.

Restaurant – Not this weekend.  We will be enjoying these restaurant worthy recipes at home however – The 10 Minute Perfect Broiled Lobster Tail and  Stuffed Peppers with Cheese.

Prescriptions – This week I need to pick up Mirror Image’s back up inhaler for school.  Schools in our County do not allow the students to carry medicine of any kind so she must register her medications with the Nurse and there it stays in case of emergency.  Expensive but necessary.

Fun – As for fun stuff.  It is going to be COLD here this weekend.  I would would like to stay in with cozy slippers and house cleaning projects and watching movies rented from the library this weekend but Mirror Image might rebel.  Maybe we will take advantage of one of the Groupons I have tucked away.  If we do, there will be no additional costs except the medical attention I will late need for frostbite.

I will be back on Monday to tally up my successes (or fails).

Thrifty Image  Mirror

My frugal heart is fluttering

The Movies icon

I love the movies.  However, I rarely go to the movies anymore.  My daughter is too young for the bang em up crash em up and beat em up movies I like (Jason Stratham – I love you). And it is really quite expensive to go to the movies these days.  Sure there are matinees, I guess but still it’s not cheap date.  So, I have taken to waiting for the good stuff to come to my local library where I rent it for FREE (minus any fines or late fees DOH!).

But a happy discovery  has brought the theater experience back to me life.  It’s an updated version of the second run theaters from my youth.  In this day of movie house monopolies and megaplexes, I thought they had gone the way of the Dodo.  But lo and behold, I found one..  The Beltway Movie 6.  It came up on my search when I was looking to take my favorite mini me to the movies to see Cinderella last year.  It had already been out for a while and wasn’t at the regularly featured complexes.  So I just searched for the movie and there came Beltway Movies.  I didn’t bother to look up the price.  Why bother?  Everything is highway robbery anyhow.  Plus, I wanted to get my Disney on!  Well, imagine my surprise when the nice teenager asked me for $7.00 for Mirror Image and me.  I usually pay that and more for one single ticket.  I just put it on my Chase Sapphire Preferred (just got the awesome new metal card with chip technology whose awesomeness I will describe on another post) and marveled at the bargain.  This required more data.

Here is what I would pay there in these categories:

Admission Prices

Matinee All shows (before 4pm)            $3.50

Adults                                                           $4.50

Seniors (62 and over)                                             $3.50

Children (12 and under)                                       $3.50

3D Upcharge                                             $2.00

Can anyone say chi ching?!?! Yes it is not the $1 or $2 I paid in my youth to see second runs but still a bargain nonetheless.

Compare that to prices ranging from $6 to $13.50.  That includes matinees, student/veteran/children and senior discounting.

Clearly I have found the new place for our occasional cinematic treat.  We won’t go crazy with this new gift.  After all, money spent is still money not saved but when the urge to watch the silver screen can’t be squashed, I will head to Beltway Movies 6.

Do you use second run theaters?  How much is your theater bill?

 

The Thrifty Image  Mirror