Where to go from here?

money goalsAs life starts to settle down a bit, I’ve been thinking about what my savings goals should be. I know what they were, but now that I’ve bought a new car and moved, what should be next?

I know that we will likely be moving again in a year or two, and my car should be fine for quite a bit, but you never know so I want to sock some money away there (maybe $1,000 just in case?) but neither is really as pressing as it was earlier this year.

Emergency fund and Six Months are still important to me, but the Six Months is so daunting. Maybe for now I’ll snowball (or sweep) that until I get some of the other stuff caught up. I’ll need my Christmas Gifts money soon enough, you know.

School is totally on the table, but I attended a training that put a whole new idea in my head and it is so completely different that I’m not sure how to approach it. It would be at a totally different (and more expensive) school and may require more undergrad classes before I could even start the Masters.

I have a lot to think about on a personal financial level and a lot to discuss with that guy I like a whole lot on a joint financial level.

Which brings me to another question of how we’re going to merge our finances or if we are even going to at all. I guess that’s a wait and see for now until he finds a job and has income coming in so we can see where we are then.

It’s all very confusing right now!

I should probably start with my usual process when things are confusing and chaotic – pick one thing and just do it. I mean it’s not like I can’t transfer money when I figure stuff out more, right?

 

 

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And then I bought a new(er) car.

Me driving my new car :)I’ve been looking for a new car on and off for a bit now and about two weeks ago, I realized that I was more likely to get a loan approval with good terms if I did it before I moved than after. (I’ve lived in my current place for 3 years which looks good on paper for the credit scoring game.) This meant that I had a grand total of about 6 weeks to find a car I wanted, negotiate and secure financing…

(And pack and work and have some sort of life…no pressure.)

Here’s the thing: I hate car shopping. There’s too much “guessing” involved. I want to know how much I can spend and go from there. I want to know what they’ll give me upfront for my car and how much money I have to work with before I find a car I love. Too bad that’s not always how it works.

(See, I know that I’ll be sad if I had to “settle” on a car I liked when there was one I loved out there.)

So Wednesday, I called my credit union to talk about a car loan and see how much I could borrow with what I could afford to pay every month. This was a pretty painless process and I even got preapproval contingent on providing documentation that one of the items on my credit report was incorrect. (A topic for a different post.)

Now I had a number to work with and this considerably cut my anxiety level. I also had general parameters for what I wanted in my new(er) car. I wanted low mileage, good gas mileage and reviews, decently low maintenance costs, power windows and locks, and an AUX jack for my iPod.

I started poking around local car dealership web sites and found a few that I wanted to test drive.  An ’09 Ford Focus, an ’08 Nissan Sentra and an ’08 Toyota Corolla. Basically I was looking at the same car from different companies. It would come down to which dealership could work with me best.

First, (and it turned out only) I drove a ’08 Nissan Sentra – I’ve already owned 2 and loved both of them. When we got back to the dealership we talked numbers…And oddly, we found a number that we could agree on! (The whole time I was willing to walk away and I think that was helpful.)

To make a long story shorter, I finished the paperwork, picked up my car and was on my way on Saturday.

It still doesn’t feel real that I got approved for a loan, found and negotiated a price for a car all by my self. I was sure that with my credit score, they’d never say yes to a loan by my self, that the dealership would never offer me enough for a trade in to even try and that something would horribly go wrong.

But there I am, driving my new(er) car out of the lot.

I DID IT!!! I’m so flippin’ proud of myself, it’s not even funny…

What are you most proud of yourself for currently?

This time I was prepared…

In the next few days, I’ll have to write a check out for the deposit on the new apartment. That guy I like a whole lot has been great about getting me his part of the money for the move and what not when I’ve needed it so that is super helpful, but I have to put in my part too!

Previously when I’ve had to do things like this, it always hurt a lot because I hadn’t really prepared for it. I’d shuffle things around and something invariably wouldn’t get paid on time because of it.

It was stressful.

But because I’ve been saving specifically for this, I was able to take it from savings and move it to my checking account so that when it’s time to write that check, I don’t have to worry that something else might not get paid. Sure, it’ll sting a little, doesn’t it always? But I have the money so the sting isn’t stress this time.

And that feels good.

Will it always be that I’ve managed to save the money first before I need it? Not always and I recognize that…but this time I did and will continue to try to be ahead of that ball.

How about you? Are you one who tries to anticipate what’s coming and be prepared or do you wing it and hope for the best?

To Pay or Not to Pay…

…rent on two places, that is the question.

We got the apartment that we wanted which is awesome, but it’s not available until July or August which is not most excellent.

My current land lord is willing to let us extend the lease until August so long as I’m willing to show the apartment (which I am) but my current debate is if I want to spend the money and pay for both places to make moving easier.

(I’ve considered asking about prorating my rent for a week or two, but am fairly certain neither landlord won’t go for it.)

My sanity is worth quite a bit to me, so I’m inclined to do it. It would mean that I could take the time to clean the new place, move everything and then clean the old place. It’ll also allow for a “weekend move” when more people (hopefully) are available to help if I provide them with food and beer.

But then again, it’s a good chunk of money that although I have, I don’t know that I really want to spend it on this. I’d much rather spend it on a new couch or bedding and what not.

First things first, we will have to figure out when the other people are leaving because if they can’t leave until July, then it won’t matter. After that we can figure out what we want to do about paying rent on two places.

What would you do if given the option? Would you pay for both places for sanity’s sake?

Insurance: Shop around or pay what’s “fair”

I’m one of those people who understand insurance. Ok, I don’t understand it really, but I understand that I pay for it so that if there’s a problem I have some piece of mine. I’m willing to pay for my sanity – within reason.

A couple of weeks ago I received my renewal statement for my auto and renters insurance from Liberty Mutual. To say I was less than pleased would be an understatement.

I was downright pissed off about it. (If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen it.)

With the exception of one minor bump (literally, I bumped into a car at the airport) that they had to pay out less than $700 on (the only pay out they’ve had on me in the 3 years that I’ve been with them so the rest of my premiums was theirs to use as they needed) I’ve been nothing but the perfect customer.  I pay my premiums on time (thank you auto pay) and I almost never call them. If I do call them, I’m super friendly and usually assume that what I’m’ calling about is my fault or that I misunderstood something. I’ve also encouraged others to check them out while I’ve been a customer.

No more.

Without rhyme or reason, they jacked my auto insurance rates up by about $400 a year plus an additional increase in my renters insurance. Well, I’m sure they had a reason, but it wasn’t in the paperwork other than to say their expenses have gone up 20%…which is my fault how? I get that my premiums pay for others accidents and people’s wages etc, but let’s get real here…

Today, I called another insurance company – Allstate –  and got a quote. While they only do their auto policies in 6 month increments, they got me a price for the same coverage that was actually less than I paid last year. I’ll have to pay it again in 6 months, but whatever. It’s not $400 more than last year.  I took it.

I know I could have looked around a bit and maybe saved a few more bucks but really? I was comfortable with the number I was given and thought it was a fair price to pay.  It’s not worth my time or aggravation to search for a better price because my sanity will suffer.

I’d like to give Tony at Allstate a shout out and say thanks for being helpful and ask you this:

Do you shop around for your insurance for the absolute best price or do you pay what you consider a fair price and call it a day?

I was not compensated in any way for this post. The opinions are mine and I felt like sharing.

A $146.70 Lesson

And boy did it sting…

When I leave my apartment, I turn the lock on the door behind me and go because usually the keys are in my hand or my bag. (I keep my car keys and house keys separate so that they’re less bulky and I can slip my car key into my pocket at the gym.)

Saturday, I went to the store to get produce like groceries. When I got back, I took my bags of fruit and diary into the house and thought about how much I needed to lay down. As I was getting settled, putting my things where they belonged and putting the food away, I realized  I had left my phone in the car. No biggie, I’ll run out and get them then finish the rest.

With car keys in hand, I walked  out the door. Locking it behind me. (Of course.)

Wait. I looked down at my hands…I had already hung the house keys up on the hook by the door.

I was really tempted to cry, but I didn’t. First I looked in the maintenance guy’s closet at the end of the hall to see if there was anything I could use to break into my house or maybe even a spare key. Hey! You never know…

There wasn’t though.

Next? I called the people I thought might have a spare key to my place. One I know is in Chicago which is a huge help of course and I thought a couple other people might have one so I gave them a ring, but to my chagrin, they did not.

Here’s the thing. It’s February and chilly out. Granted it’s a bit warmer than last week, but it was NOT warm and all I had on was a fleece. I thought about going to the store to see about getting the items I might need to break in and realized that wouldn’t work – my wallet was on the futon right next to my keys.

I called Daddy-O and he said that he could come up but I’d have to wait for him (about 2 hours out) to help or I could try a locksmith. He was pretty sure they would likely be ABLE to let me in, but would they be WILLING? Well, there was only one way to find out!

I started calling around and finally found someone who had an available person to come to my house, all they wanted to see was my license and a check or cash for $135. (Seems a little shady, but OK I could do that.)

So to make a long story short, guy showed up, let me in, asked to see my license and for my phone number, wrote a bunch of stuff down and left with my check in hand. It took him 20 seconds to get in my apartment and 12 times that for me to find my check book.

What was the other $11.70? That’s me getting 3 new sets of keys made which I’m putting around town in case this happens again. Let’s hope it doesn’t. I’m trying to SAVE money, not spend it on stupid things like locksmiths.

Expensive lesson learned. Make keys ahead of time and know where they are!

What’s an expensive lesson you had to learn the hard way?

The shoe shopping date that wasn’t

bandalino shoeIt was a great date, but it was not shoe shopping. Let me explain…

Last night I had plans for dinner and shoe shopping with a friend. We are both shoe lovers so I was expecting an evening of great fun.

The dinner was good, the conversation was great and we shared many laughs but then it was time for shoes. Typically, I’m made fun of for my slightly extensive shoe collection. What can I say? I adore shoes.

And I was ready! I had my gift card to one shoe store that has such an extensive selection I was sure I could find something to love and take home to be mine – possibly even the shoes I’ve been eying for months now.  (Yes that’s the pretty shoes. They’re Bandolino and not only available here, but at a few other places as well.)

I had my card for Macys if they were offering an additional discount for using it and I knew I could find my pretty shoes there if I didn’t find them elsewhere.

We started out at the store I had my gift card at and was just shocked by all the ugly. Seriously. There were so many ugly shoes! (Tomorrow over on Cute~Ella is I’ll feature some of them with commentary.)  Here’s just a peek.hot mess gladiators?

They did have my pretty shoes at that store for the same price they are sold for in Macys, but they didn’t have them in my size.

We continued on, making our way though the shoe stores in the mall. We were looking for a specific pair of red shoes I had seen several times for my friend and generally looking for my pretty shoes or something else that caught my eyes.

Ultimately, I didn’t buy any shoes. Gasp. I know, I know.

I had planned on it, put money aside for them and was all ready to go.  Was it a function of being so overwhelmed by all the ugly and therefore disenchanted about shoes over all?

Was it a function of me doing well with my savings goals and part of me feeling like it wasn’t worth spending the money? Or possibly the design universe cooperating with my savings plans and challenges? (There was a whole lot of ugly in general throughout the mall. New York and Company and Deb? I’m looking at you!)

Was it something else? I don’t know. I do know that when we ended up at Macys at the end of the night, I just couldn’t buy my pretty shoes. Part of that made me sad, but the other part of me just said that, “Maybe it’s just not meant to be…” And all of me is thinking that the time spent with my friend was well worth the ugly shoes…especially when we had so many much needed laughs over the ugly shoes.

Have you ever planned on buying something, had the place picked out, money put aside and everything only not to be able to do it when you got there?