Money Money Money Money

MONAAAY.

Yeah Soul Train knows what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about money.

Now I’m no Dave Ramsey, but I’ve picked up a few things along the way that help keep me from debt collector’s (mostly) and wage garnishments so I thought I’d share. In lieu of a long and dramatic back story I’m going to hit you up with the cliff notes list version of my mistakes/misfortunes.

  1. I thought my parents were going to pay for college.
  2. I worked a lot, and spent that money on things that were not school.
  3. I used my credit card with a much higher limit than I should have had to pay my school bill.
  4. Both my parents were laid off. Then they got jobs.
  5. Then I was laid off. Then I got a different, less lucrative job.
  6. A year later, I had surgery.

My surgery was in March, but just in case you didn’t know that stuff is expensive. So all in all, I mishandled my money and expected others to take care of it. Naively. In May, I started my current job which pays more than any other job I’ve had and it pays regularly. The same check every week. That’s incredibly convenient. So I’ve devised a plan to pay off my debts and pay my bills and have a semi-normal social life in the process.

The Big Plan

The first thing I do at the beginning of the month is whip up a calendar. All my bills have due dates. Do you see where I’m going with this? The first thing I do is plot those dates. Then I move them back to the corresponding payday. So if a bill is due Friday, I move it back to the payday just before (Tuesday). Then I do a little math. Paycheck – Bills = Money for other things. Money for other things breaks down into Debt Repayment, Fun Times, Lunch, and if I’m really lucky, Savings. Let’s be honest, Fun Times does not get a large budget.

I pay way more than the minimum payment for my credit card.  18 times more to be exact. I also pay a hefty sum weekly to my school so that one day they will let me back and I can be an academic. This doesn’t leave me with a lot left over to do wild 23-year-old things. Hence my frugal posts. 

By paying my weekly bills as soon as I get paid, I’m not tempted to spend money on other non-necessities. I figured out that by following my bill paying regimen I can be debt free in 7 months.  At least, that’s the plan.  I am waiting to find out if my contract at the company I work for will be extended or not. They could even hire me. Whoa. My plan for now is to assume that nothing is going to change because I haven’t heard anything either way.

This might not be the best way to handle finances, or even a great way, but it’s what I found worked for me.

Do you have a strict budget?  Do you wing it?

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Catch It!

Today, my dear friends, we are going to talk about money again. I have recently caught not one but two money saving mistakes. TWO! One saved me a little money and one is going to save me hundreds. HUNDREDS! First, you need to know how much I love the Patch NYC mini shop at Target.  I loved everything I saw on that endcap. Patiently, I waited for it to go on sale and one evening I was out at the old Target with my boyfriend and spotted some Patch items on a 50% off shelf. Hell to the yeah. I looked at the price sticker and it was the still the 30% off I had seen before. So I scanned it. Still 30% off. Then I did the one thing that not very many people do, but should. I asked.

The girl I asked quickly called her manager who told me it was their mistake and that they would honor the 50% off. Now, before you go taking one item off a shelf and putting it on a clearance shelf just to get the deal, don’t.  All the signs were supposed to read 30% off, not 50%. It really was their mistake. I was told to let them know when I was going to check out so they could alert the cashier. Now, here is where skill becomes luck. I explained what happened to the cashier. She couldn’t do it. Another employee or maybe manager saw her confused face and came over. He told her they can’t take 50% off the original price so she would have to take 50% off the ALREADY REDUCED price. This is the breakdown:

4 mugs = $4.99 ea reduced to $3.48 ea reduced to $1.74 ea

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1 teapot = $24.99 ea reduced to $17.48 ea reduced to $8.74

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Total Savings = $29.25

Now, I don’t know about you but an extra $30 in my pocket is a fantastic thing. Or maybe not wasting $30 on something I don’t really need is a fantastic thing. Either way I freakin love the set. Fo sho worth the $15. 

The other mistake I noticed was in a bill.  Earlier this year I had a surgery (story maybe to come).  Anyway, I’m paying off the surgery with a payment plan and I recently got my monthly bill.  The total had doubled. Um, say what? So I perused the charges and two recent doctors appointments showed that my insurance was paying a whopping $0.00.  Not cool. I called my insurance company and they told me my doctor didn’t accept my insurance so it was being charged to my out of network deductible. I thought this was ludicrous. My doctor is part of an enormous health system and there was no way she didn’t accept my very good insurance. So I fact checked (election reference, ay-ohh!) and sure enough she accepts it. I called the insurance company back and they sent me to a “Resolution Specialist” who saw that yes, my doctor accepts them and that yes, it was processing wrong. Boom.

Total Saved: $466

I’m just a lowly receptionist, but I’m pretty sure everyone wouldn’t mind reducing their debt my nearly $500. Asking questions and paying attention to what you are being charged is extremely important, especially if you are on a tight budget. Honestly, who isn’t these days? At 23 and living on my own, every penny counts. I pay my bills, not my parents or my boyfriend or any anonymous benefactor (not that I would say no to one of those).

Lesson learned: Really watch those totals. Ask questions!