Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Big News

I've been nervous to post this, even though it definitely relates to personal finance and I know I could get some good advice on it. But, I'm swallowing my nervousness and sharing:

BF and I are planning to move in together when his lease is up July 15th. :)

He is going to move in to my place, since my lease goes until January. Right now he lives two blocks away, which has been great. We used to live an hour apart, so it was a good transition to live close by but still have our own space at first. Lately though, we've been spending pretty much all our time at each other's places and after talking about what we want and where we're headed, we think cohabitating will be a good step for us.

I vascillate from being really excited about living together and then being really nervous. I'm probably most nervous about messiness. I am not a neat freak, but I do like things orderly at home. BF is...the opposite. We talked about it and he says he is like that because he has a bachelor pad and he doesn't care. Once we live together, since he knows it's important to me, he says he will put forth more effort. We shall see.

Obviously this is a great decision financially. That's not why we're doing it, but it's a perk we can't ignore. I will save $445 in rent per month, based on the agreement we came up with. We will share utilities, which will be nice too. I think I'll end up spending more on groceries, but that's the main area I can see increased spending. We were going to rent a storage space for some of his bigger furniture that won't fit in my place, but then I talked to my mom and she agreed to let us keep it in her garage for a while. :) I'll also be getting rid of my TV, and possibly my whole TV hutch/entertainment center, since BF's TV is much nicer and won't fit in my hutch.

As I'm sure all my readers know, this event coincides with the month I will have my car all paid off. So, as of August I will be saving approximately $1,000 each month compared to what I spend right now! The other night I couldn't sleep because I was playing around with different scenarios of how I will handle that extra money in my head! Like, literally, I had to force myself to stop it because I was going crazy! But, it feels great to know that I will have so much more freedom in my budget!

We've spent a lot of time talking about how things will work and even wrote down some of our agreements in a notebook so we can remember what we agreed to. But, to anyone who has ever moved in with a BF/GF I'd love your advice! I've never lived with a BF before, so this is new territory for me.

As a side note, part of why I was nervous about sharing is that I have some dear friends who read my blog who I know will not agree with my decision. But, I feel good about my choice and I want to live my life honestly, so I am putting it out there.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Personal Finance Fails and Wins...

*I got an email yesterday that Tina Fey's new book, Bossypants, was ready for me to pick up from the library. I put myself on the waiting list a month ago and it was finally my turn! I came home and read it all in one night. For free. :) Winning!

*I had put a book on hold a few weeks ago and forgot to go get it. If you don't pick it up, they charge you $1.05 for reshelving. Whoops. Fail!

*I got the tickets for tonight's Dodger game on Groupon, spending $13 per ticket on seats valued at $28 each. I'm going with my cousins, and they agreed to ride the metro up there. BF is going to drive home since he is meeting us there after work. Winning!

*I went to Fresh & Easy and bought groceries this morning. Got some good deals but realized after I had scanned everything that I forgot my coupon at home. It was $10 off $50, and I spent $46 anyway...could've got more stuff and spent less. Fail! 

*Washed my car this morning at the do-it-yourself place. Spent $6.25 to wash and vacuum my car. But, I started at the back with the vacuum and it ran out of time just as I was about to start the floor of the driver's side. Annoying. But, washing my own car=winning!

*My electric bill is $2 less this month than last month, for a total of $17.40. Winning!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pink Slip Rescinded!!!!

Hallelujah! The union and the district reached an agreement yesterday that will save my job! We will be taking four furlough days next year (we had seven this year, so it's actually an improvement), in order to save 3,300 jobs! And mine is one of them!

I'm SOOOO relieved that I have my job. I had interviewed at a charter school last week and they are going to let me know this week if they are offering me the job. I am leaning toward staying with my district, but it was good experience, and it's nice to have some possibilities.

Budget-wise, the four furlough days actually won't be too bad. I worked hard to get my raise this school year, so those months with a day of pay missing will be the same as what I made before the raise. Which I lived on no problem...and that's with my car payment. :)

My car will be paid off completely in July, which feels unreal. I have several ideas of how to handle the extra money each month. I'm planning to post my different options and let you all give me your opinions on how I should handle it. Though, in August I will most likely use it to go on vacation with the BF, so I have some time to think about what I'll do in the Fall.

Just wanted to share my good news!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cheap Date Night-Aquarium Edition

On Friday the Aquarium of the Pacific had free admission to the Shark Lagoon from 6:00-9:00. Boyfriend saw this advertised online, so we decided to check it out.

To save money on parking, we walked about a mile on the beach path to get there. The shark lagoon has an area to touch baby sharks and and also to view grown sharks in the tank. There was a live band (which was a little cheesy, but fun). We probably stayed for 45 minutes or so. Then we walked back and stopped at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on the way. We each got a caramel apple and ate them on the harbor, watching the boats. Then we walked home. :)

Obviously this is a specific location and time, but most museums and aquariums have events like this with free admission. You can find out about these events by joining email lists or checking their websites.

We spent a total of $13 on the fancy apples, and had a great night. Anyone else have any luck with free museum nights?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Renter's Insurance Question

I posted a few weeks ago about getting renter's insurance, mostly as a way to make my car insurance cheaper. Well, this week my bike was stolen out of my back yard...so I may be making a claim already.

I would like to preface the story by saying that I'm dumb and it's partly my fault that the bike was stolen. So no lecturing me on that part. :/

Here's the deal: I rode my bike to use my free feminine product coupons last week. When I got home I put my bike in my backyard, leaning it against the stairs up to my unit. The lock was inside the apartment, and I didn't lock it up right away. Or at all. I kind of forgot. Oops.

Yesterday, I went outside to grab my bike so BF and I could go on a bike ride and it's gone. :( Vanished.

Today, I got a letter going over my renter's insurance coverage and it includes up to $500 for stolen bikes.

I've never filed a claim, and I have some questions: I bought the bike from a friend who paid about $250 for it ten years ago. I don't have any receipts or documentation for it. I do have pictures of me riding it, but that's it. Will that be enough proof that I actually owned a bike? Do they require paperwork?

Next, is it suspicious that I just got insurance and I'm filing a claim right away? I mean, it's the truth, but I don't want them to think I'm shady. Also, will it make my rates go up next year?

I'm going to call tomorrow and ask about options, but I'd love some wisdom going in on how this all works, so if anyone has renter's insurance experience I'd love to hear it! Thanks!

Cheap Date Night: Stroll & Savor

This is probably my favorite date night ever...Stroll & Savor in Belmont Shore. Twice a month during the summer, a stretch of local restuarants (at least 20, if not more) participate in Stroll & Savor. You buy tickets ($10 for 12 tickets) and each eatery has a table outside where you can buy food using your tickets.

So, for $10 last night I had: a mini cupcake, three pieces of sushi, an Indian vegetable dish with some garlic nan, some chow mein, and a chocolate covered pretzel for dinner. YUM. Boyfriend had three pieces of pizza, a Tahi combo plate, a chocolate covered cupcake, and a mini-cupcake.

We spent about an hour and half walking around and trying different things. He also tried to give me a bite of his Pad Thai and accidentally threw noodles at me, which was comical. I can't wait to go again next month!

Total damage=$20 for the two of us*

*Full disclosure: BF wanted to stop and get a beer before we went, so we hit up a happy hour, which made our date night more expensive. But he paid for that part. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting to Know Me

Decided to Mix it Up and post the ABC's of me...

•Age: 28

•Bed Size: Queen

•Chore You Hate: Mopping/sweeping the floor. I hate floors.

•Dogs: none

•Essential start of your day: Snooze button, unfortunately.

•Favorite color: Blue

•Gold or silver: Silver

•Height: 5 feet 7 inches

•Instruments I play (or have played): None :( I wish I could play the piano.

•Job title: Middle School Teacher

•Kids: One day.

•Live: LBC Baby!

•Mom’s name: Jill

•Nickname: Fletch

•Overnight hospital stays: None

•Pet peeve: When kids tap their pens and pencils on their desk while I'm talking
•Quote from a movie: “Besides, Melrose Place is a really good show." -Reality Bites

•Right or left handed: Right.

•Siblings: 1 sister

•Time you wake up: 6:00, 6:09. 6:18, etc....

•Underwear: Yes.

•Vegetables you dislike: not a huge fan of peas

•What makes you run late: Oversleeping, though I am rarely late

•X-rays you’ve had done: at the dentist

•Yummy food you make: Vegan peanut butter cups. Salsa. Tacos.

•Zoo animal: Giraffe

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Irony of a Raise and a Pink Slip

As you all know, I am still getting a pink slip from LAUSD. I have some back up plans in the works...if they come through, I'll post about those, but I am hoping not to jinx anything yet. Anyway, I know I mentioned working on classes to get a raise earlier in the year. I finished the last class I needed for my raise at the end of March.

Last week I got the paperwork saying all the classes had been processed and my raise had been approved.

These raises are part of the contract, so even though the district is laying me off, I will get a raise for my last few months of employment with them. The raise will kick in on my June check, and they'll also give me back pay for the month of April (May's check) that didn't reflect the raise.

I'm expecting it to be approximately two hundred dollars more per month. Which will all go to my car, so I can hopefully get it paid off with my last check, in July.

It's definitely less exciting to see a raise when I know it will only be on there for a few short months. But, all schools have pay differentials for units, so hopefully this will serve me well at my next job.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reason number 568 I love working at a middle school..

About once a year, the female teachers on campus get a bunch of coupons for pads and tampons in our mailboxes. My best guess is that they are from the Health teacher, leftover from info given to the 7th grade girls. This is my guess because the back of the coupon is part of some sort of brochure with the phrase, "How do I put this thing in?" in girly font on the back.

But I digress.

This year I scored a few extra from a friend and ended up getting this...

...for only the price of tax. YAHOO!!

First I used two coupons at Walgreens. Then I stopped by Rite Aid and used four of the coupons, pressing my luck, since it says one coupon per transaction. That time, the guy didn't say anything about that AND when I was counting change to pay the tax I came up 37 cents short. I reached for my debit card and he told me not to worry about it. Then, I really pushed my luck at Ralphs, where I pulled out five coupons. The woman at first said I couldn't use them all, and I immediately said I would go put the others back and apologized (see previous post about not being a coupon jerk), but she then proceeded to run them all through and let me use them. :) At Ralphs I also earned 31 rewards points for the pre-coupon price.

So, to recap I spent a total of $6.03, visited three stores, all of whom let me use more than the one coupon it said I can use, and saved a grand total of $63.89!!

Yes, you read that correctly. This seems a little hoarderish, but I will get through these eventually, and the coupons expired in June. And yes, they are displayed in a pyramid on my dining room table. Which will elicit the "you're crazy" look from BF. But for now I am admiring my savings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Heart Fresh & Easy

Today after work I stopped by Fresh & Easy because I needed black beans and sun dried tomatoes, both of which are cheapest there. I also perused the clearance section and scored some pretty awesome deals.

First, I got BF a sandwich for $2 and myself a veggie-hummus wrap for $1.75. I took those to his work and we sat in the car and ate them for dinner during his break. That's how I keep the romance alive...clearance sandwiches.
Cue the romantic music...

I also picked up hummus for $1, a coconut lime fish and pasta dish for $2.99 (lunch tomorrow), and a package of eight rosemary rolls for $1.

Not on clearance, I bought two cans of black beans (79 cents each), sun-dried tomatoes ($2.29), and some sugar snap peas ($2.99) to dip in the hummus.

Total damage: $15.60

The rest of the goods
Not bad for a few meals, some snacks, and some necessities.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Coupon Success!

Remember how I said I was going to use my Ralphs $12 in rewards to try to score as much merchandise as I could? I actually ended up buying popsicles for one of my classes who earned them, along with an avocado one day. BUT, I did have a big couponing success, thanks to Sarah.

Following her directions, I was able to get 8 boxes of pasta and two cans of ragu sauce for $2.90. Since they deducted the total without coupons, they actually gave me $3.40 in cash back from my rewards card. Sweet! If I were more organized, I would have taken a picture of the boxes...but I didn't. Just imagine them in all their cheap glory.

I also used a $1/2 boxes of Rice Crispies combined with a store sale of $1.98/box to get two boxes for $3. I used one box this weekend to make Rice Crispie treats to bring to my mom's house for Mother's Day. I also used some of the pasta to make a pasta salad I brought over, which was a big hit. I combined a Snapple coupon with a sale to get a six back of bottles for $4.50. I don't usually buy these, but it was nice to have them around last week. In general, I just took advantage of sales to stock up on some items. I don't feel like I am a couponing expert, but I did finally load coupons onto my rewards card and actually use them for once so that was a success.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Use Your Coupons, But Don't be a Jerk

I was talking to the BF at dinner tonight about couponing. I looked through his Sunday paper to snag some coupons to try to work on getting some deals this week. He works at Walgreens as an assistant manager, and I mentioned that a lot of the extreme couponers blog about deals there. His response:

"Yeah, those people are rude and annoying."

At first I thought he was annoyed because they were working the system. But he explained that the manufacturer reimburses them for the coupons, so he couldn't care less. He takes advantage of deals too, so he doesn't have a problem with that.

He explained that people who are coupon-pros come in daily, and that most of them are entitled, argue with him, and "freak out about saving $2." He even mentioned that there was actually a nice lady yesterday...and that it was rare.

I've used coupons to get some deals, and I have sometimes asked questions or tried to make sure I get a what I can...but he pointed out, "I've worked in retail for a long time, and I know how the coupons work."

I guess the point of my post is this: make sure you know the rules of your coupons so you're not arguing for something that's not in the rules. And, enjoy your deals but be polite to the employees of the store. You're not conning them out of anything, so save your smugness for your blog posts where we can all enjoy it. :)

That is all. Over and out.

Monday, May 2, 2011

April Goals Recap

I just remembered that I did April goals and I'm actually doing a post with my progress. And I didn't do terribly!

1. Go to DMV and get my address changed. I also need to ask if they already sent the bill for my registration to my old address. It doesn't expire 'til August, but I don't want to have any problems there.

CHECK! I did this during Spring Break and took care of both my address change ticket and my car registration in one delightful trip to the DMV.
2. Start recycling for cash again. I stopped largely because I didn't have anywhere to store cans and bottles and it annoyed me to have them in my car. But, I want to start up again now that I have a back porch where I can put them.
CHECK-ish! I have started saving the recycling again, but haven't taken it because I want to get a good collection before I go. But I have one full bag on my balcony right now.

3. Go through bookshelves, DVD's and CD's again to see if I have anything worth selling.
CHECK! Just sold two more books last night.

4. Finish and ship National Boards portfolio!! This is not optional, it HAS to happen!
CHECK. It feels good to be done with that...hopefully I pass and hopefully I still have a job when I get the results. :/
5. Plan and start finance lessons in my yearbook class after our deadline at the end of the month.
FAIL. My yearbook deadline was Friday though, and it was stressful enough getting the book done. I'm going to work on those lesson plans this week.

I'm Becoming a Hoarder...

...not of stuff though. In fact, I just cleaned out my bookshelf yet again and found eight or nine more books I'm willing to part with. I cleaned out my closet and found a few more things to get rid of. And while I could stand to clean out my fridge, it's not out of a compulsion to keep everything that I don't (it's out of laziness). No my friends, I am becoming a hoarder of my Swagbucks.

I just crossed the 7,000 mark. Which is great! I've been thinking of saving for some bigger items or maybe buying some necessities later on if I need to. But, I also thought about cashing in 1,800 of them to buy BF $20 in Amazon gift cards to go with the used Kindle I bought him for his birthday next week.* Which would be a great idea, so he can buy new books for it without going into his budget. And it doesn't actually cost me anything, so I am not going over on my budget for his birthday (well, more than I already did. I went about $25 over, but I worked it out.) All signs point to go for it, so I can tell him they're in my account and print out the gift card codes for him to use. 

But I don't want to. I don't want to see that balance go down, now that it's at 7,000. Partly because I want to use them later on other things, but I think part of it is a hoarder mentality. I just want to save them and see the number get bigger. Which is funny, because before as soon as I got to 450, I'd cash them in for a gift card. But now, I like my big total and I don't want to give it up. I'm sort of motivated to shoot for the moon to get the $300 Apple gift card....if I start using them, that probably won't happen.

What do you think, readers? Am I being silly? Should I just get him the gift cards, and be a generous girlfriend? Or should I let him use his own Swagbucks for that (he's got about 1,300) and save mine for a bigger purchase?

*(He claims he's never read my blog and I believe him. So, Freddie, if you're reading this...it's your fault your surprise is ruined!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why I Love my Credit Union

On Friday after work I went with the BF to the store so we could each do a little grocery shopping for the weekend. I picked up about $25 worth of stuff, and we headed to the self checkout. When I went to pay, the screen said my debit card was expired. Nope. It doesn't expire until September 2012. I tried a few times and then asked for some help. The woman tried a few things but nothing worked. I was annoyed and confused, since I had used my card that morning on the way to work. BF paid for my groceries, and as we walked out I remembered seeing a missed call from a 714 area code, which is where my bank is located.

Sure enough, I had a voicemail asking to call them. It was after five, but they are available until 9:00pm. So, I called back and sure enough, someone from Galveston, Texas had charged $500 to Walmart on my card. The bank noticed it, cancelled the card, and called me.

All the charges will be refunded and they've mailed out my new debit card already. They said it takes two days once it posts to do the refund, which isn't a problem. Here's why I love my credit union though: those charges wouldn't have shown up until Monday at the earliest. I would have called, but a LOT of damage could have been done by then, causing overdraw on my account if checks went through. But, they noticed right away and called me to take care of it. I'm not paying for the charges, and I should have my new card in the next few days.

Now, the annoying thing is fixing all the places I have auto-debit, since my card is now cancelled. Netflix already emailed me, and T-Mobile should be next. This is also the reason I'm glad I kept one credit card-I can make sure the bills are paid on time, and then pay off the credit card as soon as everything is back in order by the end of the week. So sorry Dave Ramsey; I won't be cutting up that last credit card.