20 Minutes of Action?!#!#?

RAPE = “20 MINUTES OF ACTION” ?fdflkdf

I’M SO DISGUSTED, MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE.

 

Advertisements

Hard Choices, Part 7

We’ve been pretty good about keeping big expenses low for a few months. Then, all of a sudden, new BIG needs/wants spring up.

1)  Replace Car #1- $25,000+? This would replace Car #1 which needs some costly repairs. We’re not sure it’s worth it.

2) Swim Lessons – $300 to $500? We need private lessons for special needs kiddos. $39 per lesson — yikes — but I’m shopping around.

3) NEW! Smartphones – $650 (?) for two. Our phones are crapping out. I am willing to go with something in the $200 range but I think my husband would prefer something higher-end like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or S6. The lowest price I’ve seen for the S5 is $400.

UPDATE: I think I’d rather pay closer to $100 and no more than $150 for a phone. Smartphone prices are crazy!

4) NEW! Lawyer – $5,000 –  This is a wild guess. I assume a first-time  consultation is free but we would need time/expertise to create a special needs trust and wills.

5) Apple software program – I know my husband wants to get a new program. No idea of cost. I’m including this at #5 because he’s been complaining about his current program for weeks.

6) Car #2  We spent $584.85 in 2015 for repairs.  More repairs are probably needed this year.

7) Foam mattress  – $2,000 –  This has been on the “hard choices” list for a long time. Now I want a new bed frame, too.  UPDATE: $600-700  – I looked into reader suggestions and have discovered a lot of quality mattresses that cost much less than the $2,000! It looks this might move up the list.

narrow-leg-upholstered-bed-frame-natural-c8) NEW! Bed frame – $551 –  We still haven’t upgraded our 10+ year old mattress but now I want a new bed frame, too. I like a simple, modern style like one in the photo (left). For the frame only, it’s $551. Headboard is sold separately. I’m happy with our headboard but not sure how it will look with a new bed frame. Lifestyle inflation at work!

Since my last report, I’ve gotten retainer replacement ($400) and hub caps on Car #2 ($70).

What big items are on your wish list? What would you prioritize if you were me?

HTSMC: Compare Prices On Prescription Meds

A few months ago, I wrote about pharmaceutical assistance programs that help people who have trouble paying for their medications.  This was written before Martin Shkreli became the poster child of pharmaceutical profiteering and corporate greed. I hate that our system allows for astronomical price mark-ups and forces us to compare prices on medications (and medical care) the same way we compare cable and shoes, but for now it is what it is.

I neglected to mention another way to save money on medications: GoodRx.  On their website (and app), you type in the medication you’re looking for and it’ll show you prices, coupons and discounts for your prescription at pharmacies near you. You can also print out a discount card to present to the pharmacist.

There are times that convenience is more important than price. However, prescription meds can have HUGE differences in pricing so it pays to shop around, even if you have insurance coverage.  The biggest saving I’ve had was $15-18/ per month for pet meds.

The GoodRx blog is a surprisingly good source of information:

5 ways to get the most out of your prescription insurance

How the Target pharmacy switch to CVS will affect you.

In general, Walmart and Costco seems to have the lowest prices.  Target is/was relatively inexpensive if a medication was on their generic med program. Sadly, Target will no longer have a list of $4 generics (30-day supply) once CVS takes over their pharmacy program.

 


This is one in a series of tips/ideas to help you stay middle-class (HTSMC).  Whether you consider yourself on the lower- or higher-end of the spectrum, you can probably find some useful tips to help you stay there and find save more for retirement even as wages stay stagnant.

Money Lessons From De-cluttering

I suffer from “sunk-cost fallacy“.  The term is used in economics and business to refer to a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered*.  For example, an investor bought a stock in a company for $100 a share. Subsequently, the company starts failing. The stock drops in price…$80 down to $70 down to $30 etc.. The investor holds onto the stock because s/he doesn’t want to lose more money (see loss aversion), regardless of the fact that the company is doing poorly.

How does this relate to de-cluttering efforts?  Like many people, I’ve held onto clothing and shoes that no longer fit, are not my style, have sentimental value (gift), wore once, etc.. simply because I attached a certain price to these items. Rationally, the money is already spent and if I don’t like the item, I should get rid of it. I could even sell it to recoup some of the cost. Instead I hold onto the clothing item because of sunk-cost fallacy.**

This weekend, I finally managed to really clear out my closet. For some items, I threw them in a donation bag and waited a few days to see if I would change my mind. Finally, I managed to donate these.

*Disclaimer: I’m not an economist. 

** Again, I’m not an economist.

I spent way too much on kids clothing.  I don’t need a shopping ban for myself. I need to rein in my spending on the kids! I now have 2 bins in the closet for “extra” clothing — i.e. clothes that fit them but are redundant. How many rugby polo shirts can a kid wear in one lifetime?

De-cluttering can save money. Now that things are grouped together and I can easily assess what I/we actually own, I feel like I will make much better spending decisions. Oh, I should give kudos to this book review post that helped me let go of more stuff.

BUT…

Re-organizing can cost money. Even though i focused on de-cluttering, I did buy some storage and shelving to better organize some closets. I can also understand the allure of the Container Store!  My Cost breakdown (so far):

  1. $30.45 for plastic storage carts
  2. $13.07 for hamper (RETURNED)
  3. $35.50 for stackable cubes (RETURNED)
  4. $25.00 for clothes to replace clothes I dumped (!)

I’m proud that I was able to re-purposed items to use as a charging station, book ends and miscellaneous storage.

All in all, I’m happy, probably way too happy, that I took the time to de-clutter and re-organize. The garage is another story for another day….

download

 

Breaking Down My New Year’s Resolutions

I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions in a few years. It’s not because I don’t believe in them or forget them by mid-year. In fact, I’m actually pretty good at keeping my resolutions.

Some years, I set ONE BIG GOAL. Experts say that having too many resolutions is a set-up for failure.

Most years, I set multiple goals and categorize these (money, health, work, etc…) When I have many resolutions, I have to do one or two things:

  1. Make sure my goal is not too vague. (i.e. instead of saying I will work out, say I will go to the kickboxing class every Tuesday and Thursday).
  2. Write down specific actions to achieve goals. By this, I mean if I resolve to eat vegetarian on Mondays, I also need to include actions that may help me achieve this, such as download 10 delicious-sounding veggie recipes.

Since this is a money-blog, I’ll focus on my financial and career-related resolutions.

  1. Get my house in order with a will/special needs trust, life insurance, etc.. My husband and I have been saying this for years! The first step is scheduling a meeting with a lawyer.
  2. Look into passive/side income. Research the rental market, perhaps increase funds in my peer-to-peer lending account.
  3. Focus at work.  I’ve been making too many mistakes at work and I need to get back to basics — focus on the project at hand, single task, read the fine print, etc.. — in order to get a good evaluation and rebuild my career capital.  I came up 3 concrete actions to achieve this goal.
    1. Have only 2 tabs open on my computer at one time so that I’m not clicking between 5+ different websites.
    2. Read career-related books or articles during down time.
    3. Print out important information so that I really read it instead of scanning, as I tend to do with content on screen.
    4. Limit blog reading time. I will read Grumpy Rumblings in the morning and that’s it. Note: I’m already breaking this resolution but it’s a slow day…

My other resolutions are mainly about nurturing self and relationships with loved ones.

 

Do you make New Year resolutions? Are you good at keeping them?

 

 

 

 

 

Time vs. Money Or Another Reason Being Middle-Class Sucks

Do you ever feel like you often have to choose between saving time or money? I do. That’s not to say it’s always a choice between one or the other, but it sure seems like it.  If you’re poor, you often have to save money and spend the time. If you’re rich, it’s a easy to save time by spending money.

timemoneyTake the example of hiring cleaning help. If you’re barely scraping by, there’s no way you could justify spending money on this luxury. If you’re rich, there’s no way you would clean the mansion all by yourself.  The assumption is that if your time is worth a $$$$ amount per hour and that time should not be taken up by chores.

However, if you’re in the middle, there isn’t a simple answer. You have to weigh the pros and cons of both options. For example, if it’s a particularly expensive month, I may have to skip the cleaning service. However, if my husband or I are extremely busy with work, spending money for cleaning is a much better option. Of course, oftentimes, we’re extremely busy during a high-spending month, at which point we are paralyzed by indecision.

In short, being middle-class sucks.

Hard Choices, Part 6

The last time I wrote down my list of big expenses, it was relatively short. Of course it has gotten longer since. Plus, there seems to be no end to car care expenses.

1) Car #1 Repairs – $120 so far. The check engine light is still on and the car is showing signs of age. 

2) Car #2 $280 + $304.85 for brakes and rotor repair.= $584.85 this year so far. Both cars need some body work, too. I was quoted $700 for a paint job!

3) Airplane ticket (Spouse) – $600 –  Just purchased. Used 50,000 credit card bonus airline miles to offset this major expense. Otherwise this would have been around $1,200. Note: This is a kind of frugal fail, though the opposite of what most people make.  I sacrificed quality for price so my poor spouse has to endure a longer than average flight home. Next time I should just cough up the extra $400.

4) NEW! Replace Car #1- $25,000+ Spouse hates his car and is suddenly concerned about how others perceive our financial situation. The thought of buying a new “status symbol” car fills me with dread.

5) Foam mattress or topper (Both) – $1,000 – $2,200 – This may not move up in ranking until the mattress falls apart.

6) Car #2 hub caps –  Does a car look “ghetto” if it doesn’t have hub caps? I separated this from the other repairs because it’s mainly cosmetic.

7) Retainer replacement (Me) – $400+ – on hold..Big Time.

That’s it for now. I don’t include holiday spending on this list but my gift list is rather short.