Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I originally wrote out a whole post about how I thought I was being ripped off, only to find out I technically wasn't, so I revamped the post accordingly.

Have you ever had a moment when you realize you've been ripped off? I did this morning and I was pissed. Then, a bit later, I had another moment where I realized I actually hadn't been ripped off and I was relieved. And kind of annoyed. Let me take you through the journey.

Last weekend, The Hubs and I were conferring on what to get his parents for Christmas. We had picked their "joint gift" about a month ago in a catalog, but wanted to get them each something small. We had a theme going on and decided to stick with it. I can't spill all the beans, since I know they read the blog, but trust me, it's awesome.

I was purusing Groupon and LivingSocial for deals that day (for others and for us) and noticed a gift that would be great for my mother-in-law and tied into the theme. At $20, it certainly didn't break the bank, so I ordered it.

Last night, I was searching Etsy for some ideas to give my siblings-in-law for the annual family Pollyanna. Lo-and-behold, I stumbled upon the same gift I had just ordered for $8.00. $8.00!!  My first thought was: Is LivingSocial taking such a high percentage of a seller's profits that they needed to mark their products up more than 50%. And, what's even worse, LivingSocial lists the product's "retail price" as $28.00. No where in their Etsy shop is that product listed for $28.00.

I later realized the product I was looking at on Etsy was a copycat of the product I had bought on LivingSocial. I mean, seriously, I couldn't even tell the difference. I would put a picture up, but then it would ruin the surprise. Note, after pasting them side by side in Paint, I realized they actually don't look that similar. But when you're clicking back and forth between webpages (and simoultaneously trying to look like you're not blatently online shopping at your job) it looked like the same thing, I swear.

Moral of the story: when buying goods off a deal-based website, do your homework. Is that the actual retail price? Can I get it cheaper somewhere else? Would my my mother in law really been able to tell if  I gave the $8 product or the $20 one if I didn't just tell the whole internetz? Lucky for me, she knows I'm frugal cheap and she loves me anyway.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Last week, my iPhone 4s broke. Well, not totally, it still worked, but I couldn't connect to any WiFi networks. The option to even have WiFi was totally gray-ed out. A Google search revealed it was an issue with the new iOS 6 software and the phone would pretty much need to be repaired or replaced.

(go read Problems of the 90's meme & get ready to pee yourself from laughing.)
I tried "fixing" it on my own first - soft resets, network resets, and, last night, a hard reset & total restore back to factory settings. Nothing worked. My only other options were to try and downgrade back to the iOS 5 software, or take it to an Apple Store. I'm not a risk taker when it comes to technology, so I went with the latter. Thankfully, Apple opened a store at The Pier in Atlantic City a few years ago & I was able to book an appointment at their "Genius Bar" online last night (tip: book the appointment in advance, if you can. We would've waited a lot longer had we just walked in). 

Long story short, they were unable to fix the problem and I had to get a new iPhone. Luckily, we are still approximately three weeks shy of our one year iAnniversary (I made that up. Clever, right?) & I was able to get the new phone at no cost. Had we not been covered under the warranty, it would have been $200 for the replacement phone. Yikes! I definitely dodged a bullet there. 

Unfortunately, the new phone is only covered by a 90 day warranty, which means from March to December I'll be whispering sweet nothings into my iPhone's ear and praying each night that it keeps working. I'm telling The Hubs to do the same, since his phone is still working (knock on wood) with our warranty deadline around the corner. It's too late for us to buy the extended Apple Care plan - you have to sign up within 30 days of your Apple purchase. I tend to turn up my nose at extended contracts - but now, in this age of technology, I'm starting to rethink that. 

What's your policy on policies? Are they ever worth it?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

my first word

was N-O. And like most kids, I said it a lot.

It's funny to look back on because now, as an adult, I have a difficult time saying no to pretty much anything. I think (based on absolutely no research) that's common in women. The Hubs probably hates it, since now by default, he pretty much does whatever I'm doing in our spare time. Plan your party? Sure. Host Thanksgiving dinner? Okay. Help you move? We'll be there with bells on.

While I am a people pleaser, I don't say yes to things because I want the laurels. 99% of the time, I enjoy whatever I'm doing and, more importantly, helping people is what feels right to me. I'm a "fixer" by nature & if whatever you need done makes your life easier/less stressful, then I'm glad to help out.

Unfortunately, saying yes can add up, financially speaking. This week, I had to decline an invitation to a friend's bachelorette party. The reason was two-fold: I have obligations with The Hubs' family that weekend which can't be changed, but also, it would have been expensive. With the holidays coming up and having so many financial "situations" (for lack of a better term) the past few months, it's money I just can't spend right now.

I'm bummed, but the best decisions are always the hardest ones, right?

Friday, November 9, 2012

reward me!

Today, I discovered the beauty of credit card rewards.

Not to say that I never used them in the past. On the contrary, I have always redeemed my rewards; However, it's usually in the form of a Starbucks gift card. On a few occasions, I've redeemed my points for gift cards that I used as a birthday/holiday/wedding shower gift. I've never redeem them for cash rewards, in stark contrast to the Hubs, who only redeems his points for cash back.

Today, while I was scheduling my online payments for the months, I decided to check out what kind of options were out there for my points. Picture me maniacally rubbing my hands together while thinking of all the cool stuff I can get. Then picture someone sticking a needle in my bubble.

For all the money I spend, I have next to nothing in rewards! Boo. Cue the violins, please.

In my (limited) experience, American Express has always been a bit stingy with their reward points (or perhaps I just don't have the right card to accumulate them). I had a little more than 4,000, which bought me nothing of note in their online store. Instead, I used 3,333 of those points to pay off an "everyday charge" (a $20 reload on my Starbucks card). So I'm left with about 700 points which I will probably never use and won't accumulate anymore because I never break out the AmEx. Moving right along.

I also never use my Discover card, so that had a whopping 313 points on it (or $3.13 in U.S. currency). Oh yeah, I'm a big spender.

Our joint Chase card looked promising though. After all, we did just put $1,800 on it after repairing the Hubs' car, so I should have gotten 1,800 points, right? Wrong. Well, not totally, but the statement hasn't closed with that transaction yet. As of today, I had about 4,000 points, which gets you more than American Express, but not much.

I contemplated redeeming some points for an iTunes gift card, but I couldn't think of any paid apps that the Hubs' or I wanted recently so I nixed that idea.

As I was purusing the Ultimate Rewards site, I saw you could "Shop the Ultimate Rewards Mall" and earn more points. More points? Okay! So pretty much, you're online shopping, but when you use the Chase card they give you an extra amount per dollar. I ended up buying two things I knew I was going to have to get anyway: a gift for my mother-in-law (whose birthday is next week) and heartworm medicine for my mom's dog. I can't tell you all what I got my MIL until she receives it, but I got 7 extra points per dollar for what I spent. 8 points per dollar! Awesome.

Then I received 6 extra points per dollar at 1800 Pet Meds. So 7 points x the $60 I spent on heartworm medicine = 420 points on that purchase! Awesomely Awesome.

Understandably, this could get a bit out of control, given that I can pretty much justify any purchase, ever. But I'm exercising a little thing called self-controlled. At least for the rest of today. Once I know my MIL received her purchase, I'll pay that charge (under $50, no biggie). And the next time I see my mom, she'll pay me for the heartworm meds, so that can get paid off right away too. Maybe by next month, I'll have enough points to trade in for a nice Christmas gift for someone!

What reward program do you use? Do you prefer the cash back or a gift card to "treat yo'self"? (as Tom Haverford would say)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

hey hey what can I do?

Every time I've opened a blank post up this week, I haven't been able to come up with something to write. I like to try and keep my posts focused, lest this become reminiscent of my teenage LiveJournal days; However, clarity has been elusive. I'm going to indulge my stream-of-consciousness today in the hopes a more focused blogger will appear at the end.

When we last left off, pre-hurricane, we had just spent $1,800 on the Hubs' car. Prior to this, we had about $2,200 on our joint Chase card. We made a lump payment of $1,000 before the car repair; However, now we have a $3,300 bill. Ugh. At least at the end of this month, we'll get the Hubs' check for coaching track and that can get paid off. Sandy delayed that by at least a week though, since the whole season was pushed back a week (including the bonus pay schedule).

Speaking of Sandy, I had a bit of a panic moment this past weekend, when I believed there was a very real possibility we weren't going to be paid as scheduled tomorrow (since no one was in last week to submit their time sheets). Thankfully, it looks as though the State of NJ is going to come through and deposit a much needed paycheck in my bank account tomorrow. Phew.

Post car, but pre-Sandy, we went to the Hubs' cousin's wedding in North Jersey. Seriously, people, I love you all, but we need to get out of this wedding phase. I forgot to buy a card & we didn't have time to grab one before the wedding on Friday, so I figured I would mail it to them when we got back, but then I thought that having the cash might be in our best interest if the power was out for an extended period of time. Well, our power came back on sooner than most (so so lucky), but I just can't be trusted with money. In general. Ever. Plus I kind of over spent on groceries right before the storm, so I was doubly broke. Luckily, we didn't lose any food with the storm (again, so so lucky). I just wrote them the check this morning. Whoops.

I did fall into a bit of money yesterday, though! I'm in a football pick-em pool at work and I scored the most points two weeks ago and won $100! I would've won $185, but I hadn't paid my entry fee yet, so that had to be subtracted. I'm currently 13 points off the leader, so I don't know if I have a shot of winning any of the top three prizes, but I'm trying not to think about it or I'll mess up my winning strategy (which is really no strategy at all, but quickly trying to get all my picks in before the start of the first game on Thursday night). I already spent the $100 in the form of a check to the above mentioned bride and groom though. Whoomp whoomp.

I've been spending more money on food lately than I should, specifically lunches. I'm in one of those funks where whatever I've brought doesn't actually appeal to me by the time I need to eat it. Yesterday was one of those days and today is shaping up to be one too. Plus we're going to lunch tomorrow for my co-worker, who already transferred to another county, but we couldn't celebrate since we weren't at work last week!

Lastly, I'll leave you with a little quip about spending money to make money (kind of). After Financial Literacy Month was over, I was reading other personal finance blogs and came across Man vs. Debt. I saw he offered a "class" of sorts called "You vs. Debt" and I thought it would be interesting and relevant to the blog so I signed up. I just started getting the e-mails and was getting pretty excited about the whole thing (well, as excited as you can be for a personal finance class). Yesterday, I got the e-mail to complete my registration and when I went to the website, you had to pay a one time fee of $97! I guess in the grand scheme of things, $97 isn't a lot of money, but really, what could they possibly tell me that I don't already know? I get it - I need to spend less and make more. It's harder than it seems when you're a spender. That's the secret. I just put it out there for free. It was definitely a major WTF moment for me.

It feels to get that jumble of money related "stuff" out there, as disjointed and unorganized as it might have been. How are my lovely readers out there doing? I haven't had any comments on the last four posts - did I lose you all?

Monday, November 5, 2012


Your financial tip of the day: Get to the store & buy your Halloween candy for next year at 70% off. Don't buy chocolate though, it doesn't keep as well.