That Time I Wasted Money – On a Boat Ride

You're Invited

Until recently, the majority of jobs I have held had an interesting perk built-in.  That was the perk of the INVITATION. Invitations to sporting events, concerts, parties and more.  The majority of these invitations included all of the great stuff to make an evening awesome, food, drinks, parking and swag.  Ahhh, what a life.

Not content in my youth to just be happy with the awesome free stuff, sometimes I would still  spend, waste contribute monetarily and unnecessarily.  I think it was the excitement.  Or the peer pressure.  Or stupidity.  But this is one of those wasteful moments whose memory never leaves me for long.  And this happened almost 20 years ago so clearly, I am still annoyed with myself.  It started out innocently enough…

My boss and I went to a gala fundraiser for who knows what, as representatives for our organization.  I was able to dress up, eat and drink all I want and meet interesting and fun people – for free!  What more did I need?  Nothing.  I needed nothing.  That didn’t stop me from wanting something.

The thing is, I didn’t know that I wanted something until someone told me I did.  And they told me in the form of the dreaded ‘auction’. That part of the evening that raises more money for the event by getting people excited to part with their dollars by showing shiny stuff on stage.

I like shiny things A LOT.

The item for auction was a day cruise.  And for some reason, perhaps the people at my table telling me to go for it, I had to needed that cruise.  So I bid.  $100.

Then $200.

Then $300.

Then final and winning bid of $400.

$400 was a lot of my back then and when I went to the event, I had no intention of walking out with  $400 charged on my card. Yet, I did.  Some interesting finance writer would share that if I had just invested that $400 twenty years ago, it would be worth over $1800 now at 8% compounded interest.  Heck, if I had just gone our for a really great meal with a friend it would have been more valuable to me ultimately due to the buyer’s remorse.

There is a lot to be said for shutting out the voices that make you want to act like an idiot with your money.  There is a lot to be said about making a plan  before you have to act.  That way, you can plan to act right.  There is also a lot to be said for making a mistake, learning from it and letting it go.

And the worst part? I never went on that cruise.  Just shoved the certificate some where and it got lost eventually. So no $400, no great meal with a friend and no $1,800 with accumulated interest.  Just a lesson in money management that I paid $400 dollars for.

 

Mirror

Thrifty Image

Weekend Money #7

Boy with Cash Dollars

Saturday, March 12 is museum day live!  A yearly opportunity, supported by the Smithsonian Institution, to visit some local museums for FREE!  Mirror Image and I will be going for an educational and cultural fix at the Historical Society – so I know what that means…

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 = $0
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $20
  • Groceries = $35
  • Dollar Tree = $0
  • General household shopping = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $25
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $10
  • Total = $143

 Church (tithes & offering) – Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Gas – I noticed I was practically on empty when driving home from a neighbor’s wake last night and stopped to buy gas.  $1.81 per gallon!  Wow, gas prices goes up fast.  Well I filled up and paid almost $26.  But that won’t count against my weekend budget.

Personal Care – Visiting the salon for some minor maintenance this weekend.  I anticipate $24 including tip.

Groceries – This really should be a light expenditure this weekend. I already purchased my corned beef earlier this week because surprisingly, Giant had a better buy than Aldi. So I took advantage. The rest of the upcoming week should just be us eating a lot of vegetarian dishes as we persevere in our Meatless March Challenge.

Dollar Tree – Not this weekend.

Gifts – My uncle (by marriage) died this morning. I hope to give his daughter a small gift that she hopefully combine gifts from others to help manage expenses that come with saying a final good-bye.

Restaurant – We have no eating out plans.

General Household shopping – I need to get a couple of things from Rite Aid during the sale cycle that ends Saturday. Also, I received a $10 off $10 JCP coupon that I plan to use this weekend.  My goal is to have a $10 purchase exactly and therefore no out of pocket expense. Here’s hoping!

Prescriptions – Still need to get those…

Fun Outing – In addition to going to the museum, I think we will go to rockinjump and use that Groupon…$10 should cover the mandatory socks and perhaps a soda for Mirror Image.  I will take my water

I may try to finalize my taxes this weekend and possibly till the garden to get ready for Spring planting.  No money spending necessary there!

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

Thrifty Image Mirror

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 #6

Penny

 

 

The radio station Mirror Image makes me listen to on the way to school showcased its Friday Remix this morning.  I know what that means…

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) = $328
  • Gas = $25
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $5
  • Dollar Tree = $0
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $10
  • Total = $403

 Church (tithes & offering) – 2 Corinthians 9:7 – Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Groceries – There is snow in my area so we went grocery and snack shopping last night, just in case.  Unfortunately, due to the new converts shoppers, Aldi hasn’t had avocados the last 2 times I shopped there.  I am going tonight to pick some up as the cashier shared that a truck was coming today. I spent $48.39 there last night. Note to the world, even at Aldi, green bell peppers and quinoa are pricey items.

Gas – We may be saying good-bye to the low gas prices of the last 2 weeks.  In fact this past Monday through Wednesday, I watched the gas prices increase 10 cents each day at one particular station. If I go tonight, I might still make my maximum spend goal.

Dollar Tree – I have coupons for Clorox items and I have been hearing of some at the Dollar Tree.  Specifically, I want the wet refills for the Swiffer.  If I can find them, I plan to stock up.

Restaurant – I will not.  I shall not.

Prescriptions – Still need to get those…

Fun – Tonight we are going, as a surprise to Mirror Image, to enjoy Brahms’ German Requiem.  The tickets were free with an $8.50 service for each  I already purchased these through Groupon. We will take the train downtown and will probably have a soda at intermission.  The $10 should cover this.

The rest of the weekend should involve home organizing, walking Thrifty Pooch, baking more white chocolate chips cookies, finishing up a book report,  enjoying free movies from the Library and prepping vegetarian meals for the week ahead.  These activities are all FREE, FREE, FREE!

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

Thrifty Image Mirror

Procrastination and Finances

Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow

I spent a lot of money and time in February getting some areas of my home organized.  My bathroom closet, craft and laundry supplies cabinets and new spice drawer are now functioning in a way that makes my time spent in those situations much better.  I will admit when I checked my Mint account and tallied how much I spent, I was a little affronted. That did not last long. I used money, in this case wisely and frugally, to achieve more peace in my home.  I am pretty sure that should be in the Top 10 of what money is to be used for.

That being said, by diving into home organization, I completely stalled on some other goals that I had planned for myself by the end of February.  March 1 is bringing a reckoning…

Below is a list of goals that I have put off and my musings as to why:

Finalize my will and trust and have notarized

  • Not done because I will obviously live forever
  • Not done because the notary I plan to use is a co-worker and she is out on short-term disability not to return until March 7. There are no other notary public in the world (even though I am a licensed one myself and have access to a listing of notaries).

Move my funds from current accounts to a Betterment account that I created A YEAR AGO

  • Not done because I have not had time (although I did start a blog, organize several areas of my home and caught up on the entire first season of Legends and The Expanse in that same year)

Reach out to a handyman service to arrange for attic project (clean and insulate)

  • Not done because of being genuinely perplexed as to what to do with all the items that are in the attic while the project is getting done.  The attic is huge and anything that comes done will overflow any space downstairs that is is temporarily relocated to.  Plus, I don’t want all that stuff to go back upstairs anyway.
  • Not done because because it is an $1100 commitment to pay the handyman for the project. I am hesitant.

Move Mirror Image’s College Fund from the current account to the Maryland 529 College Plans 

Not done because I haven’t gotten an answer on monthly contributions which takes into account the fund to fund transfer.  The website tool, while helpful, doesn’t completely answer this.

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~ William James

None of these are good excuses.  Just excuses. So, while February has finished a little light on certain goal accomplishment, many other goals were accomplished and March is giving me a new opportunity.  I anticipate the following mixture of financial and non-financial goals to be accomplished in March:

  1. Make dentist appointment
  2. Contact and pay handyman service for attic clean-out
  3. Have trust and will notarized
  4. Finalize Maryland 529 application and start the funds transfer process*
  5. Travel to Orlando for a work conference
  6. Spring clean in advance of having family over for Easter dinner

And, by the way, I am doing a 30 day vegetarian challenge this month, too.  I anticipate this will be the best March ever!

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

*I want to transfer funds from the current account to get the State tax deduction as well as to be able to see this account on Mint. Currently, the Private College 529 is not supported by Mint.