chastity belt.

10 07 2011

well, i made it through two weeks on $68, only to find myself in almost the exact same predicament again this month. will i ever live to float above the desperate line?  and i’m not desperate because i’m feeding my kids (or even my dog), or putting myself through school so i can stay off the pole. nope. i’m a victim of my own careless spending.

although i no longer spend money that’s not mine (credit cards), i do certainly rob myself of the pleasure of things like a reasonable savings account, or even just the comfort of being able to manage my money like a responsible adult (what, $7 isn’t enough for groceries?).

so last monday, i decided that i was going get my shit together and go on the “all cash system” that everyone financially responsible is always raving about. i  took $60 out of the ATM.

by tuesday night, i had gone out to eat 3 times and bought a new dress. i had burned through my cash and was using my card again. ALREADY.

this is exactly what happens to me when i go on a diet. by telling myself that i can’t have food that i want, i automatically end up eating 4 times more than i otherwise would… like somehow i think that by dieting, that means that i’m never going to eat anything good again. so i spaz out and eat everything.

it is clear that i am too stupid to overcome these impulse control problems with logic. thus, my only remaining option: BRUTE FORCE.

simply, i can’t spend money if i don’t have it. and this week, i’m giving up control. i have a small stash of bills (very small this week), and the debit card has been safely handed over to the boyfriend with strict instructions not to let me have it unless it’s an utter emergency.

like medical or family emergency, not amazing dress on sale emergency.

this can’t possibly not work. right?

any other crazy ideas out there for wrapping my hands a little more tightly around my financial situation? or am i hopelessly hopeless?

 





secret stash.

9 06 2011

so, i wrote a post for the goodwill of northern new england blog today about my insane vintage fabric collection… but i’m not sure when it will be put up. unfortunately, my broke207 post for today is the B side to that post. and of course,  i don’t have a back up plan.

so today, you’re just gonna have to watch the outtakes of the of the movie before you actually see the feature attraction.

i’ve been watching a lot of hoarders lately, and it is SCARING THE CRAP OUT OF ME. i’m a shopper, a collector, and a lousy housekeeper. i do actually delight in throwing/giving things away, and my house is never so messy that it can’t be cleaned in an afternoon… but as a card carrying member of the OCD club, i worry that something traumatic could happen and all of the sudden that switch could click on in my head and *bam* i could be living in this. Read the rest of this entry »





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 »





the chopping block.

19 11 2010

so after spending some time rolling around with tuesday’s therapy musings, i got to thinking about how i use shopping to ease my anxiety. any time i’m about to make a life change, or do something that is stressful to me, i make myself more comfortable by assuring that i am wearing an impeccable outfit. new job= new wardrobe every time, assuring that even if i do make more money at said job, i won’t actually ever get to see any of it.

as many of you know, i’m about to embark on yet another crazy performance opportunity in the form of the burlesque nutcracker.  generally, this would mean several hundred dollars in new lingerie and dancewear, but i’ve decided to try and fight the power. for the snowflake number, instead of getting this (which i really really want to the point where i’ve convinced myself that i NEED it), i will borrow something completely cute and serviceable from someone who was in the number last year. not mine, not perfect, but so far more painless than spending $68+ shipping on something that may or may not actually contain my boobs, and that i will likely never wear again.

well, as i’m thinking about the HUGE (and potentially) lingerie sacrifices that i’m about to make, it made me start thinking about what would happen if i lost my job or got sick and had to make some real sacrifices- what would  be the first to go?

1. as much as i hate to say it out loud, my $100 a month cell phone bill is LUDICROUS. goodbye iphone, hello virgin mobile pay as you go… could i get by with no phone at all?

2. goodybe dr. shrinkage. $300 a months for therapy is a lot. i find it hugely beneficial, but i could survive without it if it meant being able to make my mortgage payment.

3. my student loans are steadily shrinking, and i get to write off the interest every year on my taxes. but if i had to make some cuts, these guys speak the language of need based deferment, which is a blessing indeed.

4. those are the big ones (and we all know that i can’t stop paying my credit card bills- as much as i would like to), but then there’s all the little bits and pieces like neftlix ($17), my gym membership ($10), and non-specific spending money in general ($75). i don’t have cable, and i would have to be in pretty dire straits before i let anyone pry this internet connection out of my little clenched fists.

5. i can’t weed out things like medication, but i do think that if i was really proactive about it, i could axe my food budget down to $15 a week. although i might have to get over the ick factor of shopping at the save-a-lot or the dollar store. hey, at least i don’t eat meat.

still, as it turns out, i need at least $1,200 a month to get by. it’s a lot. it’s scary. it’s exactly why suze orman recommends 6 months worth of expenses in the bank for everyone.

is there anything you wouldn’t be willing to cut?





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?





accepting exceptions.

28 07 2010

was i supposed to be on some sort of cash diet or something? it was sort of like i blacked out and woke up in a ditch and all my money was gone, except for the part where that didn’t happen. bring on the carelessness! my attempts to majorly rein in my spending this month somehow completely derailed this week as i proceeded to make exception after exception after exception…

exception #1: sister and her husband came to visit from albany. delicious barbecue dinner (split with the boyfriend) -$50

exception #2: sister’s visit ran concurrently with my niece’s 2nd birthday. dora the explorer microphone -$15

exception #3: accidental impulse purchase of coveted belt at target while buying dora microphone- $16

exception #4: purchased gas for friend who keeps hauling my ass home from dance class- $20

exception #5: bought a compilation of oldies on itunes to sing in the car with my little sister (she’s a living oldies encyclopedia)- $27

total damage: $128 (on top of the allotted $50 i spent on tomfoolery earlier in the week).

looking back on them all, only the belt (which i do love and have been stalking for many months) counts in my mind as a true foible. gas, gifts, and time spent with loved ones (especially loved ones who live 5 hours and 11 minutes away and never visit) hardly qualify as mistakes, so why do i feel so guilty about it? it’s roughly the same feeling that i get whenever i cheat on a diet:

i am only very slightly overweight. but, i remember what it feels like to weigh 25 lbs. less, and i miss those days with great desperation and self criticism that indicates that i will never be happy in my current skin. i even know how to lose weight (what i should eat, how much exercise). however, whenever the part about sacrifice and sucking it up rolls around… i fold like the foldiest folding chair that ever folded. out roll the excuses about how i’m going to start tomorrow, had a hard day, or how a few more calories won’t hurt. i am the motherfucking excuse master. somewhere in my stupid head (even though i think i want otherwise),  i know that i’m “not that fat”. i am normal and passable (acceptable even!) to most in a way that makes the urgency less um… urgent.

with money, i have a lot of debt, i have minimal savings (thank you stupid fucking roof), and i have a strong desire for financial freedom… but i also have enough income to pay my bills and go out on the town when i want to . as long as my bills are paid, i don’t HAVE to put any of that money toward my debt or my savings, and i don’t. there will always be an excuse to spend more and save less because i’m selfish and lazy and don’t want to give up any immediate quality of life- even if it means my quality of life will be infinitely better in the long run. i understand, but i don’t “get it”.

what is it about money and food (consumption!) that leave me so completely powerless and in a perpetual state of treading water? and furthermore, is there some sort of suze orman/jillian michaels hybrid (terrifying!) who will come to my house and scream at me to get real? i can see the problem so clearly, but the solution is nowhere to be found. it’s not as simple as “eat less” or “spend less”, that doesn’t work for me. but what will?





spending too little on too much.

14 06 2010

it was a spendy-ass sunday. took a little jaunt back to my hometown of augusta for brunch at the senator inn (a childhood fav that still holds up!), and a little light antiquing that turned into an entire day of shopping the town inside out. i got some pretty good deals that seemed necessary at the time… but seeing it all lined up at the end of the day (and added up), i start to wonder how much of my bargain shopping is really a bargain. i’m paying less for everything, but i’m buying more than ever.

shaw’s: 4 big G cereals @ $12.86 with $6 off when you buy 4 plus $4.40 worth of coupons ($.55/1 doubled from coupons.com) final cost= $2.46 for 4 boxes.

target: the liberty of london collection is on super sale at the augusta target and i snagged an adorable nightie for $8.98. there’s also a ton of zac posen stuff, but it’s not marked down enough for me to bother. give it another few weeks… i might have to go back to augusta and snag me a cocktail dress. i also found a mysteriously unblemished pair of striped espadrilles for $4.26 marked “AS IS”. their identical counterparts were just feet away in the full retail section for $16.99… maybe they’re going to explode in low speed collisions? i’ll keep you apprised if any defects should arise. lastly, i found a few boxes of puffs tissues with vicks vapo-rub in them (which i love but haven’t been able to find ANYWHERE- discontinued?) for $1.38 a box, and sacrificed 2 of my $.50/1 vocalpoint coupons. target total= an eerie $15.00 even.

big lots: to my credit, i did put back one movie and a $6 box of diet granola bars. but a $3 copy of funny face?! i have a list of movies on my iphone that i’m looking to buy. the problem being, that my price point for DVD buying is $5 of less, usually less. today i encountered 3 of those titles in the $3 bin. is there really anything else at big lots that’s even worth looking at? funny face, art school confidential, & confetti= $9.00.

goodwill: i used to own and love this jacket in another size that i am not officially too fat to wear. lo and behold, here it is at goodwill in brunswick for $4.99! oh wait, is that a yellow barb? make that $2.49!

cvs: i had $14 worth of extrabucks expiring tomorrow, and this evening was my only chance to cash in.  with the gillette proglide razors already sold out, i had to improvise a bit and use a few more extrabucks than i otherwise would have preferred. i ended up with a bunch or random crap (most of which will get donated), but it felt like a good haul considering the circumstances:

2 john frieda root awakening shampoos @$5 each with $3 ECB back when you buy $10 + $5/2 coupon= $2
2 right guard total defense deodorants $4.49/ea. on BOGO + $3/2 coupon from coupons.com= $1.50
1 covergirl wetslicks amaze-mint @ $4.99 with $3 ECB back, and $1/1 coupon= $.99
1 colgate proclinical toothpaste @ $3.99 with $2 back in ECB, and a $1/1 coupon= $.99
2 gillette bodywash @ $8 with $8 back in ECB and a $4/2 coupon= +$4 ECBs (the flier said limit 1, but it turned out to be limit 2!)
total OOP= $17.47 (paid $17 in ECBs + .$.47 in cash plus tax), received $16 ECBs

total spent this weekend (for all above pictured goods, not actually counting meals, groceries for the week, and a ridiculous failed dinner party that will never speak of again)= $29.42 of stuff that i didn’t actually need. on one hand, i could have spent a whole lot more on a multi-store shopping binge, and gotten a whole lot less. on the other hand, is spending $30 on anything that i don’t need really a bargain? it might be time to put the debit card away for a while and think about what i’ve done.