the plastic files.

3 02 2011

first and foremost, i would like to apologize for not posting yesterday. i am still getting the hang of the daily posting gig, and also drank one too many bourbons after a particularly rough day and ended up face down on the couch at 8:30 instead of  writing my post. i repent. also, i am hungover as hell today- so my body is repenting too. but on to the promised content!

so i am very proud to say that a year has come and gone, and i have not used my credit cards even once. i did have to borrow money from the boyfriend on a couple of occasions, and i did certainly have more than a few months of barely scraping by (including and especially this one), but it still feels like progress to me. am i delusional? is learning to control my finances a gradual evolution, or should i have figured my shit out by now? i worry that it’s like being an alcoholic, where i either need to quit cold turkey or never get better…

as usual, i still have dreams and hopes of getting a tighter grip on my money and finally making a bigger dent in my debt this year. i’m still way behind from xmas and more other random unexpected shit (burst pipe!), but i’ve started a new habit to help defray at least a little of any future emergency money madness: i have become a gift card hoarder.

usually after xmas, i take any gift cards i might have and rush my little ass to the mall and spend spend spend…  but this year i promised myself that i would hold on to them for a bit and see what happened.  i have also amassed a few more from rebates and online surveys (i’ve had great luck with these guys), and my cache is looking quite tidy (see above). here’s my master plan: Read the rest of this entry »





resolved.

2 01 2011

i was lucky enough to come into a bit of an xmas windfall this year. nothing earth shattering (most of it went to bills and to my saving’s account), BUT i decided to give myself a small allowance to spend on whatever i wanted. DANGEROUS. it could have been anything, or everything… i have a bad habit of burning through cash without really paying attention to where it goes, or really caring too much when it’s gone. i’m all like “oh, that’s was fun”, instead of feeling the intense sense of guilt and shame that keeps most people from getting in financial trouble.

the last year has overall been a good one for my financial evolution. this was the first year in over a decade that i didn’t use my credit cards even once. i also managed to have a savings account with actual money in it for more than 15 minutes. on the other hand, i didn’t pay off my credit cards as much as i would have liked, i didn’t manage to keep the majority of the money in my savings account, and i still didn’t start an HSA.

so for 2011, i have only one resolution. it isn’t to save more, or spend less, pay off the credit cards, or even open an HSA… (although all of those things are certainly worth keeping in mind). my resolution this year is just to PAY ATTENTION. wherever my money travels should take me this year, i would like to be watchful and be thoughtful about every dollar i spend. i’m thinking about leaving my debit card at home, giving myself a cash allowance, being more careful about monitoring my mint account… but it doesn’t really matter what i do, as long as i’m being vigilant.

i decided to lube up my resolution and get started a little early with the aforementioned windfalll. instead of just throwing the money into my checking account and going apeshit on whatever i happened to find first, i sat down and really thought about things that i wanted, needed, and would generally be too cheap or too broke to afford the rest of the year. here is what i came up with: Read the rest of this entry »





happy boxing day!

27 12 2010

today is boxing day in various nations around the world. today is also a different kind of boxing day right here in the USA. today is the day that people haul home their xmas loads, grab a big cardboard box, and start sorting out the shit that they’re going to drop off at the goodwill ASAP. (a friend of mine brings 2 bags to her in-law’s house- one for stuff to bring home, one to ditch at the goodwill on her way home).

for example, my boyfriend’s parents have a large extended family. and even though trying to celebrate everyone for xmas is expensive and extremely inconvenient, several family members refuse to give up the tradition. unfortunately, it’s not the family members with large disposable incomes or most intimate insights into their wants and interests doing the gift giving. mostly it’s distant and out of touch (often with reality) relatives without much to spare in the gift giving budget. now, as a person who writes a budget blog, i am certainly not one to poo poo an inexpensive gift. however, any gift not given with care is likely to end up discard bin, and the only thing you’ve really given your friends and relatives is the task of writing an awkward thank you note that won’t reveal the fact that your gift is already donation fodder.

so to you coworkers, extended family, in-laws, acquaintences… my gift to you this year is a cautionary tale of three ceramic polar bears: Read the rest of this entry »





i’m fashion blogger famous!

21 12 2010

i promised a long long time ago, that i was going to add a budget fashion feature to the ole broke207. well, i lied! totally! i’ve been trying all year to figure out how to get it going, and i just couldn’t figure it out. i would start and stop and reconfigure, but the post just never… posted. well, a few weeks ago, i had an actual revelation! perusing a guest post on the goodwill of northern new england blog, i realized that maybe the fashion post didn’t belong on broke207, and that’s why i was having such a hard time writing it.

well, i decided to nut up and contact goodwill, and see if they were interested in a potential weekly fashion feature. you never know unless you ask, right? well, they received my idea very very kindly (thanks for being awesome michelle!), and my very first post is up today! if they like it, it will be a continuing thing. if they don’t, at least i got a totally sweet outfit for $10.49. it’s a win win!

so anyway, go and check me out, and maybe even leave a little comment love so they let me do it again. and if you’re really lucky, i can talk some of my favorite local fashion bloggers into doing it with me.





actually, i’m pretty sure it is your fault.

28 10 2010

so i’ve been hearing these commercials on my morning radio show where some dude starts yelling off a list of horrible financial woes:

debt collectors knocking down your door?
up to your eyeballs in credit card debt?
thinking that bankruptcy is your only option?

but then he brings it down just a notch to let you know:

IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.

sure, people hit hard times. medical bills, lost jobs, some other things that i can’t think of right now… but the majority of people that i know who are financial wrecks (myself absolutely included) are that way because they made poor choices. it fills me with rage to hear the debt consolidation/credit counseling agencies preying on people’s need to be in denial about the reality of their financial situations. nobody wants to take responsibility for fucking up, but if you ask anyone in a 12 step program, admitting that you’re a fucking mess is the only way to make it better. so fuck you debt consolidation agency. IT IS MY FAULT- and here’s why:

1. i don’t pay attention to what i spend. i put my credit cards in the freezer over a year ago, which is a distinct improvement, but my debit card is with me all the time. i go out to eat constantly, buy crap on a whim (can you say series of 4 horse paintings?), overspend at the grocery store (i was in the whole foods for 5 minutes yesterday and still managed to spend $14). even thought i’m not creating any new debt, i’m not giving the money that i have the reverence it deserves- i just keep unceremoniously shoving it out the door.

2. which brings us to admission #2-  i don’t save enough. probably because i’m spending all my fucking money on nothing. for the most part, the really bad debt disasters happen when people are spending up to the hilt of their income and don’t have a cushion saved up for emergencies. then, the first time that shit goes really wrong, they bust out the credit cards. like i did. repeatedly. from the ages of 18-30.

3. even though my 2 cards are in deep freeze at the moment, they got in there in the first place because spent the first 10 years of my adult life spending beyond my means. i wanted to have grown up clothes, i wanted to buy people decent xmas presents for a change, i wanted to find out what it felt like for money to be no object. except that it is an object, a very big object with an 19% APR. too bad i don’t pay more than the minimum on my cards every month. it’s good that i’m not racking up new debt, but if i can’t control my cash flow enough to afford to make bigger payments on my credit card, then i’m never going to get out from under it.

maybe it’s because i just watched confessions of a shopaholic AND maid to order back to back, but i’m sudden feeling possessed to try to make some greater changes in my life. i’ve made progress from where i was, but i’m stalled out. i still have $13,000 worth of credit card debt, and i’d really like it to be gone by the time i’m 35 (that’s T-minus 2 years and counting). maybe i hate dave ramsey because i know that he’s right about making severe lifestyle cuts in order to cut my debt… actually, it’s probably the religious thing, but i am definitely in denial about the fact that real debt reduction does require some sacrifice. now, i’m not going to go all crazy and start making drastic lifestyle changes (eat out less? stop shopping? start buying produce at walmart?) or anything… but i am going to admit that what i’m doing now is definitely not working.

step one down… 11 more to go.

what is the one habit/addiction that you SHOULD cut out of your life for financial reasons, but just can’t seem to let go?





behold the spirits of douche-o-ween!

21 10 2010

it’s a tragic but unavoidable fact that women all over the country think that turning themselves into the whore version of anything is the best course of action for halloween costumes. i actually took a little poll yesterday on twitter to find out what obscenely stupid things people have seen tarted up for this upcoming holiday season. the results will not surprise you AT ALL.

slutty gumby
slutty big bird ( i expected more from you target!)
slutty spongebob (i mean sponge BABE)
“just out of the shower” towel & flip flops (slutty AND lazy)
slutty ninja turtle
slutty smurf
slutty nun
and of course the big winner of the slutoween ludicrous costume contest- for it’s high levels of both whoreishness AND general offensiveness… SLUTTY ANOREXIC!

yeah, slutoween is tapped out. even babies have slutoween costumes now. hell, there’s even a flickr group…  basically, i’m tired of making fun of skanks (i can’t believe i just uttered those words). this year, i’m going after the gentlemen. sure, they have every right to make fun of the women’s parade of obviousness and low self esteem… and we have every right to make fun of the fact that an equivalent majority of men use halloween as an excuse to expose their inner jackass (among other things that they shouldn’t be exposing).  this costume-round up over at woot pretty much says it all and then some… but seriously everybody- are we really that pathetic as a species that we need to lower ourselves so far down, even one day a year? why can’t halloween be an excuse to be clever and hilarious instead?

so here is my challenge to you american public:

it doesn’t have to be brilliant, expensive (there’s even a hot hot $5/$25 coupon for goodwill of northern new england to ease your costume purchasing financial burden- thanks for the tip coupon goddess!) , or labor intensive… just be something smarter than the lowest common denominator. leave your push up bra and you dick jokes at home on halloween for a change, and find yourself a costume that has some dignity.  i promise that there are virtually thousands of ideas out there that do not involve you looking like a hooker or a sex offender. in fact, here are some of my favorite full genital coverage costume ideas for this season:

1. those awesome dudes from katamari.

2. can you say HUMAN SIZE LEGO GUYS?

3. screw you cardboard box robot, i’m gonna  be boxed wine this year!

4. yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip uh huh.

5. i don’t normally dig the military thing, but this is a soldier costume that i can whole heartedly support. (just don’t sit on my furniture while you’re wearing it).

me and two of my best lady friends are going as the murderous vixens from clue. i’m mrs. peacock (watch out for the wrath of my lead pipe!). what are you gonna be for halloween this year?

*UPDATE*

looks like someone else has already challenged the ladies of america to cover the hell up. take back halloween is an awesome costume guide for the uninspired woman seeking full nipple coverage. also, i’d really like to see some costume pictures of y’all getting your trick or treat on.





worth the trip- full cosmetic takedown.

5 10 2010

so i’d never even heard of ulta before i drove by the mall a few days ago and saw that one had sprung up in the gaping void left by vinny ts (ok, maybe gaping void is a little dramatic- did ANYBODY go to that restaurant?). now generally, i would not entirely give a shit about a giant box store peddling makeup (sorry sephora, i’m just a low maintenance kind of girl), but they seduced me in with a $5 off $10 coupon in my sunday paper. i also did a little research and found out that in addition to their own lines and the high end lines they carry, they also carry all the drugstore brands, AND they take manufacturers coupons. SCORE! their flier showed a host of buy one get one 50% off deals on the drugstore brands, and i rounded up my very best coupons and headed over to see what i could do:

2 neutrogena blushes at $5.99 each with the BOGO50% sale, a $3/1 coupon (from all you) and a $2/1 coupon from this weekend’s paper= $3.99

2 NYC color nail polishes for $1.99 each with BOGO50% sale and a BOGO coupon from all you (seriously, if you don’t get all you, you’re doing yourself a profound coupon disservice)= $.99

2 cover girl eye shadows at $3.29 each with the BOGO50% sale, and 2 $1/1 coupons from the P&G brandsaver= $2.94

total= $7.92 minus the $5/$10 coupon from the paper= $2.92! i got all of the above makeup for less than $3! AND for joining their rewards club (totally free and painless to join), they gave me a sack of free goodies including a full size nail polish and eye shadow, scented body cream, and some fancy hair serum.  oh, and a 20% off coupon for next time. SUPER SCORE. also, the staff was super friendly and extremely patient with my crazy coupon ladyness. i’m hoarding this makeup for a secret project (details soon), so especially if they keep the coupon love flowing, i will definitely be going back again.

shaw’s- ok, i have never been a big fan of the “can-tastic savings” event, and this week was not particularly different. the only thing i deemed worth grabbing was the $.88 progresso soup. i had a $.50/2 coupon (doubled of course) from a coupon book i got in the mail, and considering they’re usually around $2 a piece, i thought that $.38 each was a good deal.

target sadly, all the clearanced all natural fruit roll ups & herbal essences 2 packs were already gone (who are you target shelf cleaner? reveal yourself!), but they did have a good deal on hunts diced tomatoes at $.82 a can (screw you can-tastic savings) and i had a $1/3 coupon. $.48 a can seems pretty good, especially because chili season is upon us. they also had the deluxe velveeta mac & cheese (i’m obsessed with mexi-mac) for $1.52, which is pretty much as low as i’ve seen it anywhere (including walmart). there was a good $1/2 coupon in the paper last week (i think!), so $1 a box for me at least, seemed like a score. although again, nothing amazing.

rite aid- the free crest toothpaste and nivea lip care are definitely on the top of my list, but that schick coupon they’re all talking about on the deal websites doesn’t exist up here (kind of like the revlon coupons that never show up in the maine papers). also, i’m gonna pass on the incontinence pads. otherwise, meh. decent deal on frosted flakes ($1.60 per box when you buy 5), and cottonelle 12 packs are only $3.99 after +UP (the only coupons i could find were $.50/2), which is a pretty good price for toilet paper (especially if you’ve ever paid $1 or more for a “desperation roll” at a gas station).

cvs- roughly as much excitement going on at the cvs, but there is a good $.99 revlon nailpolish deal (after ECBs- limit 6!), which would be free if you had any revlon coupons floating around. i didn’t, but i got it anyway because i didn’t want to waste the $4/$20 that the emailed me this weekend. however, the big deal to look out for is lurking in the magic coupon machine. $5 off all halloween decorations and costumes with NO MINIMUM PURCHASE! i bought a pair of striped tights and some purple hairspray for  $.99.  the big bummer was really getting the coupon (it’s a “one day only”) in a store that had kind of a minimal halloween section.

big lots- there is a 4/$10 movie deal goin on at the big lots right now on all regularly $3 movies. i couldn’t find 4 that i liked (my local store didn’t have deep blue sea as advertised- FAIL!), but i did find a copy of rocket science, which is a great movie starring portland’s very own oscar nominee, anna kendrick.  anyway, even though i didn’t buy 4 movies, it still came up as $2.50. they’ve got some decent horror, and the usual sub “straight to DVD” quality (heartbeeps anyone?), but if you like to dig through big bins of crap- there are occasionally some gems in there.