Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stop Bullying Me Ann Taylor Loft!

I've had enough of your teasing.  So much so, infact, that I have recently embarked on a 3 month no clothes shopping adventure.  Week 1, no problem.  Week 2 would be much easier if you stopped telling me how not cute I am, and how cute I could be, especially at the new low sale price!  I've decided that you are no longer welcome in my inbox, and have instructed the boyfriend to toss your weekly taunts in the garbage before I can be hurt by them. 

Part of this shopping free new me stems from my recent bout of honesty.  I've finally tallied my debt, and the unbelievably frightening totals are as follows:

Personal loan - $1500 at 0% interest - to be paid in full by Christmas!
Private student loan - $8500 at 4.25% interest - payments begin in December, oh Joy!
Auto loan - $7,467 at 4.75% interest - to be paid in full by 2013!
Consolidated student loans - $108,296. at 7.75% interest - oh shit.

for a grand total of: $125,763 before interest!  That brings my net worth (including retirment) to approximately $-120, 263.

So you see, Ann Taylor Loft, I can put up with you no more.  Don't bother to call, or e-mail, or write.  I'm done with your nonsense.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Over a Crate and Barrel

Everytime certain family members visit I feel vastly inadequate. 

As she strolled into our rented duplex in her Ann Taylor power suit, her silk shirt, Brighton jewelery, sky high Circa David and Joan shoes, and Chloe bag, I could only blush embarrassingly at my Gap jeans, my New Balance outlet clearance sneakers, and my old navy puffer vest.  I felt like a cheap excuse for a woman standing next to her.  A little girl attempting to play dress up, and failing miserably.  I didn't even offer her a glass of wine from the bottle of two buck chuck I had been saving.

I was embarrassed to show her our house.  The tiny kitchen with the outdated cabinets and (GASP) formica countertops.  The futon my boyfriend and I bought off his old roomate, and the saddest little TV stand you ever saw.  Kmart faux wood, broken wheels, and a door that is taped shut to keep it from falling off.  Disgusting.  I apologized for everything.  The tacky lighting, the cheap (mostly free) furniture, the borrowed air mattress, my jumpy was all so embarrassing.  So low rent.  I'll never forget the look on her face when I told her the driveway was shared with the neighbors...pure pity.

So of course our first order of business was to head to Crate and Barrel.  Everything was better there.  The furniture, the dishes, even the tupperwear.  I was better there. It was all so shiny and nice, stylish, the epitome of everything I wanted to be.  How had I been living without this yellow citrus press?  What was I thinking storing my food in dollar store tupperwear?  Why were my dishcloths so old and out of used?  Did I have no shame???

Then I saw it.  My big downfall for the weekend. The most beautiful TV stand I ever saw in my life.  A feeling of intense desire surged over me.  THIS is what I need to make my home happy.  THIS will give me the stylish life I desire, hell, I DESERVE!  And, BONUS, it's on SALE!  Marked down to $350.00 (from $400.00).  Turning my back on this meant turning my back on everything I could be, everything I should be, everything I was EXPECTED to be.

I immediately called my boyfriend.  We had previously decided to split the cost of a crock-pot (on sale at Kmart now!) and auto bike rack (HOURS of cheap entertainment and travel) for Christmas gifts, but shouldn't we do this instead?  Didn't we deserve this?  Don't you love me enough to give me money for the life I deserve? Shouldn't you be providing more???

No.  His solid answer.  So I pulled out my old fallback, my plastic HSBC credit card with an insanely high rate (and a 0 balance for the past six months!!).  I work hard, I work damn hard.  I deserve this.  And just like that, I could expect the good life to be delivered directly to my house in 7-10 days!!!

Next stop, Ikea!  Look at all of these beautiful things I can put INSIDE and ON TOP of my new tv stand!  REALLY live it up!  Then off to look at couches, and new Duvet covers (mine is just not the in color right now) and of course I'll need some new side tables.  All said, temporary sanity took over and I emptied my cart to two vases for $14.  Thank God.

After she left, the furniture argument continued.  How could you do that to me?  How could you embarrass me like that?  How could you DENY me?  We have enough money.  I have $4000 saved, you have $25000.  This is our LIFE we're talking about, our home, OUR STUFF.  WE deserve it.  WE are 28 year old grown ups and NEED these things. 

Thankfully, the fight didn't last long, as his truthful angry words (and subsequent reason) slowly took hold.  We have everything we NEED.  What I should be doing with the $350 is sending it to my father to eliminate that personal loan ASAP.  What I should be doing with the extra work hours I signed up for to pay for the furniture (designed to impress only OTHERS) is continue to save towards our goal of homeownership.  What I should value is the HAPPINESS and LOVE in our home, not the things.

As we made up that night I realized that our love would be no less strong, our life no happier, and the sex no less fantastic were I bent over a Crate and Barrel TV stand instead of the free Kmart version.

I cancelled the furniture order today, and budgeted to have my dad completely paid off by Christmas ($1700 of extra work money in six weeks!).

 And as for her:
 I decided she can stay in a hotel from now on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New to blogging, new to caring about money

I've always been the kind of person that committs to something and does it big. Previous committments:

1) being cute and popular in high school and college - babysat and worked 3 jobs to maintain a cool style and image. Money spent: thousands. Money saved: nada. Clothing left: entirely worn out (and tube tops really just aren't my style now)

2) maintaining a long distance (and subpar) relationship - worked 2 jobs to pay for approximately 2 plane tickets per month. Traveled to Australia with the not so significant other. Money saved: nada. Money spent: approximately $10,000. Relationship status: flatlined. BUT the trip was awesome (minus the fighting while clinging to a cliff face in the outback fearing for my life. But that's another story)

3) Obtaining a second degree, my bachelor's in nursing - worked zero jobs and relied on school loans. Money saved: haha. Money spent: Approximately $100,000. Yes, you read that right. Apparrantly, I could only study in the nicest of apartments (rent paid courtesy of Sallie Mae) Degree: 3.8 GPA, and a world of opportunities.

And my newest dedication:


The biggest question, and constant worry: how will I achieve this?

Current plan:

work 2 jobs (I'm beginning to suspect I may be a workaholic)

STOP shopping. (SO difficult. It has been the love of my life. Shopping malls, Target, Kmart, Walmart, even the Dollar Tree and Goodwill. There's nothing so exciting to me as shiny packaging, a new treasure, the feeling that I won! That THIS will FINALLY be the LAST thing I need! Until tomorrow.)

Educate myself about personal finance. True to obsessive form I've read 10 books and countless PF blogs in the past month. It's like learning a foreign language.

SAVE and INVEST money saved from not shopping (when I actually do stop shopping).

Pay off Debt! My most trouble debt is, obviously, my school loans. Add to that my car payment, and $1500 in personal loans owed to my father and it seems laughable.

Be frugal without alienating friends and family. (fortunately my live in boyfriend is captain of the cheap ship) Friends...please stop giving me heat for not paying for text messaging. I have a phone. CALL IT.

So, at 28 I graduated school and started with NOTHING except school debt. No retirement, no savings, no knowledge of finance. I often feel like a newborn baby gasping for air. I've been working six months with an annual salary of $50,000 (full time job) and approximately $8,000 (part time job). My salary will vary depending on how much I work in the year. If I'm freaking out about money, I pick up extra shifts (yay nursing!). After six months I've managed to:

pay $2200 in credit card debt

pay $1500 in medical bills (f.u. school health insurance)

pay $1000 to my step-mother (personal loan paid in full)

save $4255 in a high yield online savings account (thank you Suze Orman!)

save $1300 in my company 403B (this 6% contribution was stopped last paycheck, and I'm currently investigating Roth IRAs. I plan to roll over the 403B and increase my investment to 10% to max out the annaul Roth contribution)

I'm hoping this blog will keep me on track to that magical place I've heard of but don't really believe in security!