Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One Way to Look At Decluttering

If your house were to catch on fire, what 3 things would you grab?

Chances are you would grab your spouse, your pets, your children and other family members to get them out. Your "things" would just sit in the house to be engulfed in flames and destroyed. This is an exercise in what is truly important to you. So looking around your home right now, I want you to think about if your house did catch on fire and everything was destroyed and you are at the point where you had to replace what you want in your new home.

Look at your possessions and ask yourself:

Would I replace this?

Would I buy this item again?

Do I use this?

If the answer to all these questions are no, then the item needs to go. You paid for that item (or may still be paying for it) so if it's not something that you use or would buy again, you can either sell it, donate it, return it or give it away. I have done a ton of decluttering and have made money off the items that I no longer loved or would use and put it towards my student loans. Every time that I think that I am done decluttering, I always find more things that I have no use for.

Selling Your Items:

  • I use Amazon to list my items and then go to the post office to ship them off. Easy. I love Amazon

  • I also use a local consignment shop for clothes, shoes, purses, odds and ends items like home d├ęcor that I will never use again. Be careful here though, you want to make sure that the consignment shop has been in business for 5 years or longer. I once used a local one where I dropped off a ton of clothes and shoes, only to go back 2 weeks later with more items and found their door locked tight with a sign that said "Thank you for your business for the past year." I won't be making that mistake again anytime soon. So just be careful where you choose to consign.

  • You can also have a garage sale if you choose. I have never had one because I have watched other people have garage sales. It is a way to make quick money, but not a lot of money. If you list an item for $10, someone is bound to offer you 5 cents for it. I have seen spousal arguments at garage sales and exhausted looking faces. This isn't worth it for me, but if you feel like a garage sale is the way to go, by all means, try it.
Donate Your Items:

  • You can donate your items to Goodwill, a local homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter or an animal shelter. You can choose where your donations go. I donated my wedding dress to goodwill last summer. I wore it once and know that I will never wear it again so I would rather donate it so someone else can use it. I had the dress preserved so I donated it in the box and the man that I handed it to was in total shock and asked me if I was sure at least 4 times and I said "Yes" each time. A wedding dress is not an item that I would replace if my house caught on fire. My memories of that day are preserved in my head that I can tap into anytime I want.
Returning Your Items:

  • If you bought something recently and had to pay for it with a credit card and are having buyer's remorse then the item needs to be returned. Check to see what the store's return policy is and find the receipt and return it. Get it off your credit card. If you aren't going to use it, it has no business being in your house taking up space.
Giving Away Your Items:
  • You can give items away to family members, friends, whoever you want. I have some bulky items like an entertainment center stand that has been sitting in my basement collecting dust over the past 3 years that is in excellent condition that I am putting out of large item pick up day in my community. I would probably get $10 for it at a garage sale (or more likely 25 cents), but having one of those is not worth it for me, so to the curb it goes.

I know with the exercise at the beginning that some people would be grabbing photo items and family heirlooms and that is your personal choice. I am in the process of scanning all my photos so they are digital and then uploading them to Dropbox for storage so everything is digital so I will never lose my photos in a fire. If my house is on fire and I have time to either grab a family heirloom or my dog, my dog would be my choice. Everything is else is just stuff.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The 27th (Loan 1-04 Paid in Full Today!)

So today was exciting, I paid off Stafford Loan 1-04. Here is the breakdown of what I did.

I put back $75.00 from my 3/13 paycheck.

I added the difference from the $200 I put back for my regular student loan payment from the automated debited amount of $182.73, which was $17.27.

Total=$92.27

To pay off the 1-04 loan, the total was $111.91 was what I needed to pay it in full, so I went ahead and just took $19.64 out of my regular spending money just to pay off the balance in full.

So my next loan that I plan to attack is the Stafford 1-09 which has a balance of $1184.62 as of 3/27/15.

The next 27th post should be more exciting, I will have extra shift pay and a raise added that I will pretend that I did not get again this year to pay down the loans faster.

It feels great to pay off another loan installment, I am going to reward myself with a movie from the library since I have a day off work today and have some time to myself. I almost never watch television so this will be a treat for me. If you are doing the same thing, try to reward yourself with something that you enjoy that doesn't involve over-spending or over-splurging.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Crazy Things I Do To Save Money: Haircut at Beauty School

I recently tried another way to save money. I went to the local beauty school in my area where they cut your hair for $6. I went online and was amazed at the services that they offer and how cheap they were, so I decided to give it a try to see if this is something that I would continue to do to save money in the future.

I don't get my haircut often, it's usually about every 4-6 months and I usually just get my hair trimmed since I like to keep it long.

This is done by students learning and since I have long hair and figured that if they mess it up, I would go and get it fixed somewhere else without having to worry about it drastically changing up how I look. I asked for a trim with some layers added in.

I was pleasantly surprised by the haircut that I got.

Pros:

  • It's a cheap haircut.

  • The student is under supervision by an instructor and in my case, the instructor came over frequently to check the student's work and corrected what she missed.

  • The student was very careful and took her time with my hair. She was really trying to do a good job and made sure that I liked the haircut that I was getting.

  • It's a nice feeling to help out students that are learning in their field to become professionals.

Cons:
  • It was very time consuming. It took her about 2 hours to cut my hair and that included the shampoo. So if you are looking for a quick haircut, this is not the place to go if you are in a hurry.

  • It's a little nerve racking wondering if they are going to do a good job. The student appeared nervous every time the instructor came over to check her work and gave her some pointers on how to check length and do layers correctly.

I would definitely go again. If you are looking for a drastic change in your hair, I would probably go to a regular salon. I have not tried out their other services, like color or highlights, but I would definitely give it a try.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Why I Choose Not To Extreme Coupon

I remember when I first saw the Extreme Couponing show on TLC and was in absolute awe of what these people were able to do with coupons so of course I jumped on that bandwagon and tried it out for a few months and found that it really wasn't for me. Here are a few reasons why:

It's VERY time consuming.

I used to get so excited about getting the Sunday paper and would spend hours going through the coupons and clip all of them and find out how many overages I would get and how much the final bill would be. I would spend about  hours a day looking at websites to match sales and trying to meal plan around those sales. It soon got to the point where I dreaded it when the Sunday paper came and would put off going through it. In the end, having receipt with a zero total of a very low total just was not worth it for me.

I would also go to multiple stores where the deals were spending a good portion on my days off just to get stuff. Instead of spending my time relaxing and spending time with people I care about, I would spend it raiding clearance bins and matching coupons to deals.

I would end up with a diet of more processed foods

Most of the coupons in the Sunday paper are for very processed unhealthy foods and snacks. There are no coupons for fresh meat, fruits and vegetables so slowly as I became obsessed with couponing, these healthy staples ending up getting eliminated from my diet.

I would buy things with coupons that I didn't need or want just to have overages.

I remember the day that I had coupons for Febreze plug ins for $3 off one plug in. In a clearance bin, I found a bunch marked down to $2, so I would end up with $1 in overages for each plug in that I would buy. I though that I was getting an awesome deal.

The truth was, I don't use plug ins at all, so I was buying things that I didn't need and wasn't going to use at all just to get free money which is wasteful. I ended up taking these to my local consignment shop.

I was getting free items with coupons that I didn't even want or need just because they were free.

I still have a ton of dental floss that I got for free with coupons, but the truth is, I don't even use that kind of floss because it is hard to get my back teeth with regular floss and I would still buy (full price) the regular floss that I would use.

Coupons make a suggestion that you buy something that you wouldn't normally.

It amazes me the amount of snacks that are available today and the kind that you buy just because you have a coupon doesn't save you any money at all and adds to your grocery budget.



So with all that being said, I have turned into an Opportunistic Couponer.

  • If I am going to get an oil change, I will go online to try to find a coupon to save me some money.
  • If I am buying something online, I will always search for a coupon code to see if I can save money.
  • If I get a coupon in the mail, I will hang onto it and if I happen to go to the restaurant/clothing store/franchise I will keep the coupon in my wallet for when the opportunity presents itself, but I will not go just because I have a coupon.

I know Extreme Couponing works for some families, but it doesn't work for myself and my husband who make up a family of two people. I remember looking at huge chest freezers and shelves to store all of my couponing finds when my husband snapped me back to reality reminding me that it is just him and me. So after living through giving this a try, I have learned that there are better ways to save money without being so wasteful, like buying only what you need, buying generic, shopping the perimeter of the store and making sure that your meals include a protein a carb and a vegetable and doesn't revolve around what new dinner item coupon is available in the Sunday paper.