Friday, December 21, 2007

Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength

Confession time. I've wanted a specific pair of black cowboy boots for a long time now. Why cowboy boots, you ask? Because I bought a red pair when I visited a friend in Fort Worth several years ago and I L-O-V-E those boots. They're comfortable and fabulous looking. I wanted a pair of black ones to give the red ones a break. But I wanted certain things. For example, I wanted the stitching to be classic. I wanted the shaft to be a certain height.

I finally found The Boot at Garnet Hill. Lucchese. Yes, Lucchese. The not-inexpensive brand. But boy oh boy are they beautiful. For two and a half years I've stalked them, always successfully talking myself out of them. I mean, $300 for cowboy boots? I'm not a cowgirl. So I said no. No boots for you.

And then something happened. Garnet Hill ran out of them. It only made me want them more.

So I hunted them down from a different source and yes, I ordered them. And yes, I charged them.

No, I'm not proud. But I've wanted them for so long and I've been so good lately. And I've not been doing well this holiday season and knowing I have a beautiful pair of Luccheses on their way to me made me happy, happy, happy!

But not all is lost: I've been good (that is, responsible) too. I repaid the amount charged in November with money from my savings. And I still plan to start my debt payment plan come January 1, 2008. That absolutely has not changed. Thankfully, I've amassed quite a bit of overtime the last couple weeks. It'll make for a nice cushion as I embark on the plan.

Happy Festivus.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Praise of Dry Beans

I've gotten pretty good this year about preparing lunch to take to work, especially during the colder months. I love soups, even bean soups. And they're cheap, cheap, cheap! You can get a bag of great northern beans or brown lentils for less than a buck and they last for a while. I keep chunks of country ham in a Ziploc in the freezer so that they're ready to go when I'm ready to cook. The chunks add some flavor and make the soup a bit more filling.

Lunch is simple, delicious, and, again, CHEAP!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Double Huh?!

I just checked my balances for December and I'm not happy. I thought I was doing so well, but apparently I'm not. There's hardly any difference in the debt balance -- this, despite all the extra I thought I'd paid -- and I have less in savings than I did in October.

I'm still waiting for the credit for the boot return. And then there's the charge I made for my car inspection and engine flush. And then I took some money out of savings to cover the charge for the quilting class, and I took out about $80 to cover the Richmond trip.

Still ... this is not good. Not good at all.

I hope I have better news when I return here next. See you in January.

Ho Ho Huh?!

So there I was, sitting on my bed this morning feeling pretty darn good about having just completed almost all of my Christmas shopping. In less than 20 minutes, I'd taken care of a gift for my dad and bought a gift card for him and my mom. The only thing remaining was a gift for my mom -- a prepaid credit card from HSBC. But because I needed to get in the shower, I let that wait.

Once I got to work, I pulled up HSBC's site to quickly take care of that last little thing. Filled out all the blanks, clicked "submit order." But instead of a page coming up thanking me for my order, I got a page telling me that I was an invalid user and that I needed to recheck my order form. I rechecked the form -- no errors -- and clicked again. Voila! Order completed. And with that, I was done done done with my Christmas shopping. Time for the happy dance!

But when I checked my checking account balance, there were two charges for the gift card. Huh? Two charges? For one gift card? No more happy dance.

So I called HSBC's customer service department. Of course, that was an adventure in and of itself. For one, when you call, you get two options: press 1 for English or press 2 for Spanish. The first time you make the mistake of pressing one of these, you get a recorded prompt requesting your 16-number account number. But if you don't have a credit card with them -- which I don't -- and therefore have nothing to enter -- which I didn't -- the phone disconnects.

The second time I called, I didn't press 1 or 2 or anything else. Finally the recording came up and announced I'd be transferred to the customer service department. Unfortunately, talking to a human did about as much as pressing random numbers. She said that it was likely that though the first form didn't go through, the hold for the amount was put on my check card, resulting in two charges after I the correct form went through.

Perfect. Yeah. That's what I want. Two charges. Unbelievable.

She assured me (as much as she could) that only one gift card purchase was made; therefore, only one charge should make it through. I just have to wait until everything gets cleared.

Kinda like that nightmare with the jeans from Urban Outfitters. I will be anxious until this is settled.


Can't anything ever be easy?

Anyway, my Christmas shopping is essentially done. I've a couple minor packaging items to get, and I need some picture frames, but I'm done.

And I didn't charge a thing.