Saturday, February 28, 2009

March 2009 Update

I know I'm a day early, but I wasn't sure how much I'd feel like posting tomorrow. I'm still not 100 percent, and I may just chill tomorrow.

So without further ado, here's the March update. A word of caution -- it ain't pretty.

The Debt: $12,025.94
The Savings: $4,671.23

The debt balance has gone down $367.79. It should be down by more than that, but at least it's down, right?

The savings is down too, by $267.97. That sucks.

This month isn't looking that great, either. I have a few things to take care of. I'll probably do what I've done in the past -- pay with the card (for the points) and then pay it off with savings.

Hopefully, my tax refund will come this month and I'll be able to catch things up and get back on track sooner rather than later. Still, I've got a long way to go if I'm going to meet my October 2010 goals. I'm really going to have to step up my game.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Every Little Bit Helps, Part II

I almost ordered a rug a few minutes ago. I saw it online earlier and fell in love with it. In. Love.

I had already clicked to add it to my bag and was about to go through the rest of the online shopping process -- with my credit card! -- when I thought to myself, "Would you rather have the rug? Or would you rather be debt free?"

I chose the latter.

The rug is $70. And though it's small, it's worth every penny -- it's gorgeous and so my style. Still, it's worth every penny for someone who has those pennies to spend on a small rug. And right now? That's not me. I have other priorities, and if I ever want to be that person who has those extra pennies for a $70 rug, I need to say no to such things now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Every Little Bit Helps

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm the owner of a sick Mac laptop. Before taking it in to inquire about a repair, I figured it would be wise to (finally) buy a backup drive to make sure all my docs, photos, and music is saved.

I really like MacMall. They've got good customer service, great prices, and they almost always have decent rebate offers. So it was a no-brainer for me to buy my backup drive from them. I needed something that I could just plug in (since my disk drive no longer works) and I found exactly what I was looking for. And much to my delight, they also had a rebate offer for the shipping.

Since the backup drive isn't that big, I knew shipping wouldn't be that high. But knowing that every little bit helps, I appreciated knowing that I could save on at least that cost. So I downloaded my form. And when my backup drive arrived, I followed the instructions to the letter and sent it in.

Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from MacMall yesterday saying they couldn't honor my rebate request because they had no record of any such rebate offer.

Now ... my rebate was only for about 15 bucks. Still, it's 15 bucks that they owe me. So I called customer service.

The first time I called, I was on hold for almost 8 minutes. The next time, almost 10. I chuckled to myself, "I bet I'm not the only one that got a letter."

And I was right. When I called again a few hours later, the customer service rep sounded harried. I told him all about my letter and the rebate offer and he apologized profusely before informing me that yes, I would definitely be getting a check for my rebate. "We've gotten a lot of complaints," he said. "It was a mistake in our system."

My check should arrive in 4-5 weeks.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I've had a 12-inch PowerBook G4 for several years. I love this little thing. It goes well with my OCD issues -- it's so small and neat and elegant.

I've taken good care of it over the years. But then one night a couple months ago, I was sitting here on the couch with it in my lap, and I must have shifted because


It hit the floor. Still, everything seemed to be working OK. But then one night last week I went to insert a disk into the drive and it didn't work. Turns out the optical drive is, as the Apple employee described this afternoon, kaput. The cost to fix? $329.

I went ahead and set up the appointment to drop it off (you have to schedule such appointments with the geniuses at Apple's Genius Bar). Afterward, though, the pain in my gut wouldn't go away. It was more than the holy-crap-it's-going-to-be-$329! Granted, that was part of it, but it was more that it was a bad investment for an older computer. In computer years, this laptop is ancient. I'd be better off buying a new one when I can afford it. It will be inconvenient not to have a disk drive until then, but I don't really use the drive that much these days. I'd used it to upload music, but now I mostly download from iTunes.

It was a tough decision to make -- I'm the type of person who likes for all her things to work perfectly. Sure, I could've charged the repair. I could've taken money out of savings for it. But my goal is to be debt free and have $10,000 in savings in October 2010. For all this to happen, tough decisions have to be made, and this is one of them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I am an addict.

I collect bank accounts. It started small: I had a savings deposit at a federal credit union in my old hometown and checking and savings accounts at the everyday bank -- the one where my paycheck goes and from which bills get paid.

And then I moved. Employees of my company qualify for membership at a local credit union, so I joined. Of course, I didn't close my old credit union account. My rationalization was that it would be good to be part of a local credit union since I was no longer close to the one in my hometown. My rationalization for keeping my old credit union account was because I figured I might need it in an emergency when I'm visiting my parents. And since my everyday bank is fairly large and has local branches near my new home, I kept those accounts too.

That took the total to five accounts spread among three banks.

And then came Online Bank 1 (OB1). Dazzled by the higher savings rate, I opened an account. I really loved the interface and how easy it was to schedule transfers.

But Online Bank 2 (OB2) had a higher savings rate, so I opened a savings account with them, too. In setting up my account, however, I encountered a problem that required talking to a customer service rep. He helped me get my account set up -- and successfully talked me into opening a checking account. But I soon discovered that I hate the OB2's interface and how long it takes to transfer funds, so I only use this one for most of my savings, since the rate is higher.

When OB1 started an online checking system, I figured I'd give it a try, use it for paying my bills online -- even though I had been doing that with my everyday bank without any problems.

If you're keeping count, that's five banks, nine accounts.

Clearly I have a problem. (This is why this post is categorized under OCD.)

I'd love to simplify. I mean, seriously -- nine accounts? How ridiculous is that! And yet ... I don't know which ones to close. And then the question that comes to mind is, Should I look for a whole new bank? For example, there's a high-rated bank around the corner from my employer's office. I could open an account there. But then I wonder, what if I don't like it? What then?

Welcome to my brain.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday I was feeling pretty good about things.

Today? It's a different story.

One of my friends celebrated his birthday today. Well, he doesn't really "celebrate" it; he's like me -- he prefers the more low-key approach that happens when you're ... ahem, a certain age. Still, my feeling is that while you may not want to celebrate your birthday, I'd like to celebrate the blessing of you in my life, so I managed to talk him into having lunch with me today.

I figured we'd go to lunch, have a sandwich, maybe a little dessert. At the most, 30 bucks. I could swing that.

But no. We went to an overpriced Belgian cafe downtown. They even charged for the ^%$*&!@ mayo for the fries! (I kid you not.) With the tip (only 15 percent; I was too outraged by the cost of the mayo to give a full 20), the bill came to $51.

Fifty-one dollars. For two ham and cheese sandwiches -- pardon, I mean croque monsieurs -- fries, and small salads. And even though I was doing some mental calculating as we ordered, I still suffered sticker shock when the check came.

The good thing is that at least my friend had fun. And so did I, sticker shock aside. However, I have a tendency to permit my generosity to friends to lead me to the poor house, and that's irresponsible. As a result of today's actions, I will not be able to buy any groceries this week unless I hit the savings since I don't get paid this week.