Money management

Credit Cards

Credit Cards (Photo credit: 401K)

I’ve got Suze Orman’s show on in the background, halfway listening to her scolding people for their lack of money management skills.  To give her credit, she also tells them what they need to do to work their way out of whatever mess they’ve made for themselves.   Anyhow, it reminded me of my money mismanagement (lack of) skills when I was younger.

I was on my own, had decent credit, credit cards, my own small business…for someone without knowledge of how to manage your money this was a recipe for disaster.  I bought whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.  Ended up with some serious credit card debt…yikes!

Over the past decade or so, I’ve paid off bills, managed to save money for emergencies as well as retirement, and most importantly, learned to question myself before making purchases.  Do I really need this?  Is this something that I love?  Will I use this?  Most of the time, the answer to all of those questions is “no”. Oh yeah, and one of the most important questions I now ask myself is, “Can I afford this?”.

I think one of the things that really helped me find my way out of recreational shopping was when I finally realized that I often bought things that I never used, that I ended up giving away a few months later.  Wow…what an eye-opener.  I bought things because they were on sale, I got a good deal, or whatever other excuse there was.  Once I stopped doing that, I was able to easily save money.

You know what?  It feels good to have my finances under control, to watch my savings grow, and to realize that I’m not a slave to consumerism.  Does this mean I’ve finally grown up?

Kroger 6/7/11…not my best trip

Kroger - 1938 West Gray

Image via Wikipedia

I stopped at Kroger last night after work.  See, I really do understand that that’s not the best time for me to go shopping if I’m planning to save money.  When I stop after work, I’m tired and half brain-dead, my trip isn’t planned as well as it could be, and I just want to go home.  So why do I do it?  Well, when I have just one day off, I don’t like to have to go out and be among people (because, well, because I’m around people all day, every day at work and I like a little time alone when I can get it).  Knowing all of that, I still made the decision to shop after work.  I guess that says something about what I value more…a day to myself over saving a few extra dollars.  And I’ve decided that’s okay once or twice a month.

So, having made that decision, my shopping trip was just so-so.  I spent $78 ($28 over my $50 goal), and managed to save $35.  When I think about it, I was always spending at least $100 a week at Kroger before couponing, so saving $35 is still pretty darn good.  I had a list, but didn’t really stick with it.  Bought a few extras…like a book…gotta get a Kindle…  I did score a few freebies on this trip…

Got the Cottonelle wipes and the Breakstone cottage cheese with coupons for free product.  I was able to get the Lean Pockets free with 2 B1G1 coupons.  I don’t eat a lot of the Lean Pockets, but they’re nice to have in the freezer for those mornings when nothing’s going right and I need something quick to take for lunch.

So…what do you think?  Are there times when you make the decision to spend a little extra in exchange for some free time?  Do you feel guilty when you know you didn’t do as good a job as you know you could have?  I guess these are all things we have to decide for ourselves, no real right or wrong..just what’s right for you today…happy shopping!!

CVS, Friday the 13th was a good shopping day

A CVS/pharmacy in New York City that is open 24/7

Image via Wikipedia

Ran into CVS early this morning.  I wanted to get the Ziploc bags since I just used my last one yesterday.  I also had my $5 off of a $25 purchase coupon that I wanted to take advantage of.   Yesterday, I received my John Frieda hair color coupon (good for a free box, and that stuff is kind of expensive…it was on sale for $12.49 and I paid nothing for it, except tax).  So I knew I was going to be able to hit the $25 threshold easily, and I did.  My order would have been $38.75.  I ended up paying $3.22 after coupons and ECBs…and came away with another $4 in ECBs for a future purchase.

So, not bad for 2 boxes of Ziploc freezer bags, 2 boxes of Ziploc sandwich bags, a box of hair color, 2 bags of Cheetos (I left one at work), and a bottle of iced tea (drank that at work).  Who says Friday the 13th brings bad luck?  They obviously weren’t shopping at CVS today!

Successful CVS shopping trip

DSC01078

Image by Gangles87 via Flickr

I stopped at CVS tonight after work, list and coupons in hand, ECBs in my purse, ready to get some deals.  I picked up the bottle of olive oil that was on sale for 3.99, had a coupon for $1 off…good score…nice sized bottle of olive oil for only 2.99.  Grabbed the Special K bars, 3 boxes.  I had a coupon for $2/3…so far so good.

Oh, is that jalapeno Cheetos I see on sale for 2/$5?  Hmm…not on my list, no coupon…throw them in the cart anyhow.  I think I’m addicted to those things.

Back to my list…I’ve got 3 coupons I printed yesterday for freebies…a mesh bath scrub, antibacterial hand sanitizer and either  candy or a drink…I went with the 1.69 bag of peanut M & Ms to give to my friend who loves them…sticking to my plan here.

Over to look at the Air Wick Freshmatic Kits which are on sale for $6 each and I have 4 $4 coupons, except I don’t.  Shoot…I left the two coupons I printed yesterday sitting on my desk at home.  Plan B…the AirWick warmer duo that I do have a coupon for and two bottles of Lysol bathroom bowl cleaner that I also have a coupon for…so still a decent deal, but not quite what I was planning…still all right though.  Paid $12 for the four products after coupons and earned $10 in ECBs…not too shabby.

Walking by the Easter candy, it suddenly starts shouting at me, “Hey, take me home with you.  I’m sweet and dreamy.”  How could I resist that? Fortunately I had a coupon that the big red coupon machine so kindly printed out for me, so the damage (to my pocketbook) was minimal…the damage to my weight loss goal…well..yeah…

The final purchases were 2 packages of Mentos gum (and for anyone who’s interested…they also had some flavors of the Mentos gum clearanced for under 50 cents).  I had 2 coupons for the gum.  And how could I not get the Russell Stover Easter candy that was on sale for 74 cents while earning a 74 cent ECB…hmm…sounds free to me!

So I gave the cashier (and have I mentioned how sweet everyone who works at this particular CVS is?  They’re just the best) my CVS card, my green bag tag and off we go…I gave her my ECBs from some previous visits, my manufacturer’s coupons, my CVS coupons…after everything’s rung up and scanned, I paid $9.33, got $15 in ECBs back and saved $75.85.  Pretty decent for having to resort to plan B.

I love CVS!!  And I really love saving money!!

From QVC queen to couponing

Oh my, amazing how much money I’ve spent shopping at QVC over the past few years.  I never gave it a thought.  I would see something that I thought looked good, fun, interesting…whatever…and I’d order it.  I can’t tell you how many times I ended up with something that I didn’t really have a lot of use for.  To give them credit, I very rarely had an issue with the quality of their products, but QVC shopping sure does lend itself to a lot of impulse shopping.  And, since I put it on a credit card, it didn’t really seem like spending money.  Whoa…is that some kind of messed of thinking, or what?

At the end of 2010, when I was assessing my life and trying to decide what I could do to find more balance, I seriously looked at my spending habits for the first time.  What an eye opener!  I’m a long way from perfection right now (and really, do any of us ever attain perfection?  probably not), but I’ve been keeping meticulous records of my spending (where, when, what and why) and I’ve been using coupons.  I haven’t totally started keeping track of my savings with coupons (any suggestions for how to implement that?), but I intend to.

My first step to end my QVC habit was to cancel all of my auto deliveries.  That was difficult with some of the items that I love (Philosophy’s Amazing Grace), but I decided I do have enough on hand right now.  I’m going to give myself permission to order more of something I particularly love every once in a while, just not every month.  When I looked at how much I was spending with all  of these plans, I realized I was often spending close to $200 a month…are you kidding me?  $200 a month?  Holy moly, what could I have done with that money over the past several years? 

I guess becoming aware of our habits truly is the first step in making change.  And I am looking to make some major changes in my life…one step at a time!

Creating balance in a chaotic life

When I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2011 (yes, I’m running a little late with this whole resolutions thing), I realized I’ve spent my entire life in chaos…from the huge swings in my weight and fitness (you know, the whole eating too much or eating too little..the exercising too much or not at all), financial instability (spending too much, saving too little), working too much at a job that doesn’t really fulfill me, laughing too little, living with clutter.

Sooo…I decided to create balance in my life…to leave the chaos at the side of the road as I move forward on my journey.  Sounds easy, right?  Uh…yeah…if that were the case, I wouldn’t have spent 50+ years living in chaos…and that’s exactly what I’ve done.   I’m going to use this blog as a means to finding balance in all aspects of my life.   I’ll blog on a regular basis, focusing each day of the week on a different area.  Kind of looking forward to seeing how much progress I can make by the end of 2011!!

And I hope I’ll be able to learn from my fellow bloggers…what have you done to gain control of your lives?  What’s worked…and what hasn’t?  How have you been able to lose weight, become more fit, spend less money (and save more), live simply and appreciate all the joy life has to offer?

I’m finished with feeling guilty for my past mistakes…it’s time to learn from them and move on.  Like our old buddy Albert said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  Look at what I’ve done incorrectly (or what I didn’t do at all), accept it and figure out how to achieve the results I’m looking for by taking a different path.  And then just start walking that path, even if I’m not sure where it may lead.  Overcome my fears…and the only way I know to do that is to just continue to do the things I fear.

The topics I’ll be covering on at least a weekly basis are weight loss, fitness, spending less than $50 a week on groceries, saving money,  decluttering my home, experiencing joy and living a simpler life.  I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with all of you.  I’m also looking forward to seeing the positive growth I’m going to experience this year.   So…hold on tight, the ride may be bumpy at times, but it’ll never be boring!