Browsing posts in: Spending Money

Car Repair Bill

by

As if we don’t have enough bills to worry about between our normal debts and the new tax debt, I’ve got another new bill to foot this month as well.

Remember when I wrote about my power steering suddenly going out without any advance warning (and in the absence of any collision or other obvious cause) while I was driving home from work?

Well, it’s been quite the inconvenience over the course of the last 2 weeks. It happened on a Tuesday night (2 weeks ago). It took probably 4 hours out of my day on Wednesday for me to sort everything out. I had the car towed to the dealership, arranged for a rental company to come pick me up and get into a rental, and then had to talk to the dealership about the repair issues.

In the end, the car had two separate issues. One was covered by the Ford dealership as a safety recall (this is what actually caused the power steering to go out), but there were some secondary issues covered by my extended warranty I had purchased.

The problem is, the extended warranty only covered a maximum of 7 days in a rental car and they had my car for a full 10 days to do the work. I was able to talk Ford into covering the other 3 days of my rental, but it wasn’t just easy-peasy, because I had to return my current rental and switch into a different rental (the Ford dealership said they would only cover Ford-brand rental vehicles). So the following Wednesday I spent probably another 4 hours dealing with the car drama. Dropping off the old rental, switching to a new rental, trying to arrange the first rental to be covered through my warranty (phone calls to them, phone calls to rental company), and to get my second rental covered through the dealership (phone calls to rental company, phone calls to Ford). Just a lot of busy-work that took a ton of time.

Last time I had work done through my extended warranty, they had only charged a $250 deductible, but this time they were trying to charge me $300. It took a couple phone calls to clear that up and, in the end, they agreed to come back down to the $250 price (the problem is that they only charge $250 if the work is done at the place where the warranty was purchased – from CarMax. But CarMax had a 3 week wait for them to even look at my car, so I had to go to the dealership because I couldn’t go that long without a car!! In the end, the warranty company did honor the $250 price).

BUT – while at the dealership, the service people called to say I needed new tires STAT! My husband has said the same thing and I’ve just been brushing it off, but then the service folks sent me pictures showing the threads in my tires and saying they could not allow me to drive it off without signing a waiver to remove any legal responsibility from them. I guess it was bad. Another $400 added to the bill.

Add tax, and our final bill came to $679.00.

If you think about the fact that we don’t have a car payment (we own the car outright!!!), it doesn’t seem too terrible. But on the back of all our other April-related bills I’m just like, GEEZE!! Cut it out, April!!! No more surprise charges for anything, mkay?!

Oh, and then here’s something fun. Remember how literally the month after I paid off the car this random little piece of it broke off while I was driving? I wrote about it here. It ended up costing a couple hundred bucks to fix. WELL, the same piece flew off the day after I got my car back from the dealership. It’s been over a year, so I don’t think it’s still under any warranty of any kind, but isn’t that just some crap!?? Last time I fixed it pretty quickly but this time I’m not in any big hurry. I’ll just deal with a piece of my car missing. Money is tight right now and we can’t just be shelling out hundreds of dollars for something cosmetic that doesn’t impact the actual functionality of the vehicle. It just sucks.

Man, oh man, I’m on the countdown for summer! For the first time ever, I’ll actually have a bit of a break from teaching. In the past, I’ve been teaching year-round for my part-time place so even if I’ve had a break from my full-time place, I’ve always had at least 2-3 classes from my part-time place still going strong. But not so this year. I’m leaving my part-time job at the end of the current semester (recall I had to sign a noncompete for my new raise to go into effect). I do teach one summer class for my full-time work place, but it doesn’t start until July. That means I’ve got a couple weeks in May and ALL of June “off” of teaching! OHMYGOSH I cannot even express my excitement! Don’t get me wrong, teaching is my passion. But my load the past 2 years has been so heavy that it’s been hard to keep up with my administrative responsibilities and there has never been a time where I’ve felt truly caught up and on top of things. I mean, I do my job. But I’m excited to be able to dedicate myself more fully toward some of the work-related projects I’ve just had on the backburner and to revamp some of my old course materials for the Fall. Plus, just a chance to catch my breath! I just cannot wait!

I’ve got so much more to share – summer plans, Easter-related stuff, fun/cheap things we’ve got up our sleeve. But the time is short so that must wait for another day.

Have you had any financial set-backs lately? When is the last time you had major car repair work done? Our last time was almost exactly a year ago, so I guess we were “due.” Ugh!


JINX

by

Are you superstitious? I’m typically not.

But yesterday as I was typing up a post about mending holes in pants and being mid-way through a No-Spend week, I swear I felt a little bit like I was jinxing myself. I ended the post with this one sentence:

Fingers crossed there are no disasters and nothing crazy comes up! (knock on wood)

I swear I felt a little tingle in my tummy, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It was like when someone is behind you and you can *feel* them without actually seeing them. I brushed it off at the time. But I sure did remember the feeling at 6:00pm that evening as I was driving home from work, when my car started dinging a million warnings and the power steering went completely out on me.

Luckily, I was able to safely navigate into a parking lot on the side of the road. I was able to call hubs to come get me, and everything was fine (no one got hurt, no accidents, etc.)

BUT. So much for that “no spend” week.

The silver lining of the story is that I still have an extended warranty on my car! Remember when I just had to use it for the first time this past summer? At the time I said I should probably cancel the warranty afterward because, honestly, who ends up using it more than once? Statistically speaking, I thought we were in the clear. We should cancel the warranty after the service and take whatever refund we were owed (since we had bundled the warranty with the car loan, it has already been paid in full).

I am now SO GLAD we didn’t! I was able to use our Roadside Assistance through our car insurance (we use and love Progressive!) to have the car towed to the dealership for the warranty repair work. I’ll also be able to use a loaner car, also covered by the warranty company, for up to 7 days. There’s a deductible that applies (it’s either $200 or $250, can’t remember at this point), but I’m sure that’s MUCH better than what I might end up paying otherwise (there’s some issue with the power steering, advanced trac, and also some warranty backup camera issues that were unrelated but will get repaired at the same time).

It’s still a huge inconvenience. Last night was a mess – super late dinner for the kids, no baths, late to bed. And this morning was tough too – with only one car we had to take the girls in early so hubs could get to his own school classes. I’m at home waiting for the tow truck (which is currently running late) and then I’ll be getting picked up by the rental car company so I can go get a rental for the week. Obviously totally interfering with my work day and I’ve had to cancel some meetings and move other things around. I’m frustrated we aren’t going to be able to have a no-spend week after all and I’m still stressed about spending extra money given our tax situation (in fact, one of the meetings I had to move from this morning was supposed to be a meeting with our CPA).

But even with the annoyances and inconveniences, I’m BEYOND GRATEFUL I still have this extended warranty and that it’s still in effect. Guys – it expires at 125,000 miles and I’m at 120,000 miles right now. This is HUGE!!! I don’t know what the total vehicle costs will end up being, but I’m thankful that my personal liability is limited to just the deductible.

Now…is it the weekend yet??? Ooof!!


Money Down The Drain

by

First, thanks for the responses, comments, and helpful feedback on my last post.

Edited update: I did type up a full proposal and email but, after thinking better of it, I never sent it. Instead, I sent an email asking for a brief meeting sometime in the next couple weeks and already received a reply that we’ll meet on the 20th. Further out than I’d like, but better than nothing. Then we can discuss the changes in roles/responsibilities and the mis-alignment between contract and current duties in person. One commenter suggested asking for the changes to be implemented in the next financial cycle (like future planning) instead of insisting on immediate change. I think that it makes sense for me to be flexible and open to that, if thats what’s necessary. Ultimately, though, all this will be discussed in person. Not via email. I’ll keep you updated. I sincerely thank you for your suggestions!

 

Today I just wanted to tell you a little story of how being more aware can save you money (or, rather, how failing to be aware COST me money).

—————————————————————————————————————-

One of my friends is due with a second child in October. She had a baby shower over Labor Day that I had to miss since I was in Austin. I still wanted to get her a gift so I decided to shop Target.com since 1) she is registered there, and 2) I have a Target card so I get free shipping and 5% off all purchases.

Cool.

So I log in and pick out a couple things for her baby (a book for big brother and a 3-pack of onesies for the new baby). I thought it was a nice touch to throw in the “big brother” book. I try to stay around $15-25 for most gift-giving occasions (weddings, baby showers, birthdays, etc.) and the total cost of the gift was right at $25, so I was in that range.

But…

I have another friend who is organizing a big Lego drive for kids with cancer being treated at our local children’s hospital. One of her friends (an acquaintance of mine) has a son who has been battling cancer for 3 years (after 3 relapses at only 4 years old). I generally don’t do “Go Fund Me” or similar such things, but I felt moved to donate to this Lego drive for kids fighting cancer. So I added two $12 Lego sets to my Target.com order. My idea was to let my girls help wrap them up and go to drop them off at the Lego drive (they’d each have one to give).

With the legos added to my cart, my total was now right around $50. The Legos, alone, were about half of the total amount.

After placing my order I received the standard email from Target (I order from Target.com for most of my gift-giving occasions, so I have an account with them, etc.). The order looked correct, I saw the dates things would ship, and all was good.

Then a few days later…

I get a text from my friend with a ‘thank you’ and a picture of her son playing with one of the Lego sets I bought!!!

WHAT????

It turns out that since I ordered off her registry, it automatically shipped my order to her house. I didn’t even notice!!! Because I have an account with target.com I never have to enter my shipping information (it’s all saved), so I didn’t even realize that the gift wasn’t coming to me as I’d intended!

I immediately texted that I was so embarrassed it had gone straight to her – I thought it would come to me so I’d have an opportunity to wrap it, etc. She lol-ed and that was basically it. But because her initial photo was of her son playing with the open Legos package, I didn’t feel like I could ask for the other one back to give to the kids with cancer. And she didn’t inquire about why I sent 2 identical Lego packages (clearly not intended for a newborn baby). Left it at that.

Lesson learned.

Failing to pay more attention to what was going on caused me to spend an extra $25 (basically doubling the price of my “gift”) AND means that my donation didn’t happen. Not sure what to do about that one, as I feel guilty not donating to the cancer kids, but I also didn’t have planned to donate an additional $25 worth of stuff. Thoughts on that one?

Have you ever experienced a similar shipping snafu? If it were you, would you have asked for the other Lego package back, or just chalk it up as a lesson learned?


Lessons from Therapy: Day #1

by

I just had my first therapy session this week and I’m happy to say that it went better than I’d expected! I was nervous about whether we would “click” and be a good fit, but we really gelled in terms of personalities and it felt like I was chatting with a friend (albeit a friend I’m paying to listen to me. heh).

I’m only one session deep at this point so, obviously, this person doesn’t know all of my “issues” yet. We mostly focused on my Dad’s health issues (and the time it takes to deal with said health issues – there’s a literal crisis every week) for my first session. And while I don’t plan to divulge all the inner details of my therapy with everyone reading (sorry!), I do want to touch on some things that come up as they relate to my finances.

For instance…my therapist suggested we hire a nanny/house-keeper. She got that one of the key stressors in my life right now revolves around time. Lack of it, to be precise. So she suggested I look into agencies where I could hire someone to come and help with the kids, drive to/from school if needed, do laundry, clean, cook, etc. etc. etc.

omg – that would cost a small fortune, right?

But even though I really don’t think that’s feasible, I kind of liked the idea of trying to hire out some help. I started thinking about “what if we hire a cleaning service to come monthly?” That’s not something I’ve ever done in the past. Never. But, given our imminent move (and likely to a place that’s a little bit larger), coupled with the fact that we’re already always behind on cleaning, it does relieve a good bit of stress to think that – at least once a month – our house could be thoroughly cleaned.

Again – the therapist doesn’t know all my “issues” yet, and we haven’t even touched on finances, financial goals, financial stressors, etc. etc. etc. But seriously….maybe not a terrible idea if it helps keep my mental health in check???

What do you guys think? Is it silly to even be considering hiring a cleaning service when we’re still so entrenched in our debt payoff? Or could I think of it as one of the costs I pay to have such a great income (meaning – since I’m working 2 jobs and making more money than I’ve ever made before, I have to make some trade-offs in other areas. Like, paying for cleaning help so I can spend that time focused on work)??? Thoughts???


Work Trip = $$$

by

I have a conference for work that I’m attending in early August.

It’s a conference that I’ve heard people talking about and suggesting in the online-teaching world for over a year, but I’ve never been before. I’m super excited because I applied to be a presenter and was accepted so it’s also a nice little CV-boost as I venture more and more into the world of online education (all my previous work/conference/research has been in my actual content area that I studied for my Ph.D. Read more where I waxed poetic about work-life balance here.).

I’m also really excited because of the location! Believe it or not, it’s coincidentally located in the same city where one of my best friends moved last summer! I’ve never been to the place, but it’s supposed to be gorgeous in summer (meanwhile, Tucson is in crippling death-heat mode so I can’t wait to escape!)

But there are two things that are major bummers about this trip:

  1. The timing is far from ideal.
  2. Cost

Let me explain.

In relation to the timing – I’ll miss my girls’ first day of preschool for the year (already feeling the mom-guilt). I hate knowing that I’ll miss the first day, but I’m trying to mentally prepare for it now.  Also, my friend is due to have a baby literally the same week that I’ll be there. I hope to meet the little guy, but I won’t get to really “hang out” with my friend like I would otherwise have done if she weren’t due any minute and/or in the hospital having a baby.

In relation to the cost – I work for a major university. I know different departments do different things, but in my department we are given a small annual amount of funds to cover “professional development” type expenses (including conference travel). This year, the limit was set at $500/person. Unfortunately, this conference is super pricey, so I’m going to be shelling out quite a bit of my own money. Gulp.

To be fair, I actually received over the $500 limit because I’m a presenter (and because I asked for more. Sometimes you just have to ask!) But in total, I was given $650. The conference registration, alone, was $595. Add in airfare + lodging + food =  Cha-ching!!!

So here’s another reason why the timing is not ideal. At another time, I otherwise would’ve stayed with my friend for some free housing. But she’s expecting her first baby and their house is undergoing major renovations, and I just can’t put her in the position of asking to stay with them. I’m going to have to shell out for a hotel.

Also, I’m not in the Education department on campus, but the conference I’m going to is basically about online education. That means no one I know is going, so there’s no sharing of rental cars, hotels, etc.

On the plus side, I really do think this is an important conference for me to attend (at least once!).  I’m really branching more into this field and I plan to try to market myself as an expert in this arena for any future employment, so it’s important for me professionally and personally (and in terms of networking, etc.)

But I’m guesstimating it will probably run me a solid $1,000 or so to go. Gulp! Luckily, we have a high income this month so I’ll be putting money aside this month to cover the expense for next month. But still, it’s a big number.

What do you guys think about paying for your own professional development opportunity? How much would you be willing to spend per year? What do you feel is “fair” and “normal” for you to cover (versus your employer) in your career area?


Last Day of School – Teacher Gifts

by

Last Wednesday was the last day of school for our kiddos. Remember when I wrote about summer childcare options? We ended up going the babysitter route for MWF during the summer so I’ll still have some extra time with the girls to go to the zoo, library, parks, pool, etc. etc. etc, but I’ll also have some dedicated work days. I’m hoping the mix will work out well.

When the girls’ last day of preschool rolled around, I was kind of at a loss. I would have loved to do some Pinterest-worthy craft, but that was in the middle of all the Rocky stuff and I simply lacked the time/energy/focus to do anything super fancy or nice.

Quick craft to the rescue! (Am I getting good at these last-minute crafts, or what!?)

We made two crafts; one for each of our two teachers. One said “Thank You” and the other said “We’ll Miss You” (because one is actually moving away and the other we’ll see again next school year).

I wrote out the message in dotted lines, then the girls traced over it, and then I wrote a really nice and heart-felt message on the back. I also bought $20 gift cards for each teacher (the most I’ve ever bought before!) because our preschool costs were lower this month (since we were gone for a solid 1.5 weeks last month for the cruise), and because they really deserved it. We had a couple issues this year that I haven’t talked about on the blog just out of respect for our kids’ privacy. Nothing crazy, but some general adjustment stuff as I started working full-time for the first time since their birth. Our teachers were just amazing and really acted as extensions of our family. I’m truly so thankful for them!

image

 

Regarding these quick little crafts, I’ll tell you the best buy I’ve made was a box of these colored oversized envelopes (they sell plain white, but since I use them mainly for mailing crafts back to family in Texas I wanted some fun colored envelopes). I bought the box last year so I can’t remember how much I spent (probably $3?), but I use them for EVERYTHING! When you’re sending pictures/crafts through mail, you don’t want to use a regular envelope where the picture will have to be bent to fit. Having these larger-sized envelopes has been clutch!  I love them!

So I simply use some scrapbook paper cut into rectangular shapes (to fit the envelope) and a piece of solid-colored paper to glue on top. Color a picture on the front (or trace words, or whatever other craft idea you have), and write a message on the back. BAM! Done!

What do you do for an end-of-year teacher gift?

As it’s Memorial Day today in the U.S., I’d also be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank those who have served or are currently serving our country – particularly to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. I also want to extend a special thanks to our Service men and women’s family members! I cannot imagine how tough it must be with all the frequent relocations, deployments, etc. THANK YOU!!!


Teacher Appreciation

by

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Day, but our school actually did a Teacher Appreciation Week back in early April! I’d meant to write a post about it at that time, but it escaped me until now.

I pride myself on giving pretty decent little teacher appreciation gifts without spending a bunch of money (see a previous teacher gift here, and a classroom gift idea here). This year was no exception. Since we did a full teacher appreciation week (not a single day), I spread things out a bit across the week. It helps that our school posted online a list of our teacher’s favorite things, and that they had a suggested calendar of things you could do to help celebrate the teachers. So here’s how our week looked:

  • Monday –  We brought our teachers’ favorite foods (we have 2 teachers):  one said her favorite snacks were cashews and the other said bananas. To make it work, we brought bulk cashews and dehydrated banana chips (both bought in bulk bins at Sprouts). I had the mini mason jars already at home and made a quick note and tied a ribbon around the neck from stuff we had on-hand. Maybe a $3-4 total cost (I can’t recall at this time, but couldn’t be more than that).

IMG_2170

  • Tuesday – I volunteered to come help during lunch time while the teachers had a special luncheon.  Free for me, plus I got to each lunch with my girls! Wins all around!

IMG_2174

  • Wednesday – nothing special
  • Thursday – I brought a homemade dessert (this recipe for churro cheesecake that’s incredible) because the teachers were having a dessert party in the afternoon. PRO Tip: I always buy stuff that we frequently use at Costco when it goes on sale, even if we don’t necessarily need it at the moment. Doing so meant I had all the ingredients on hand for this dessert because it’s made with mostly staples. The only “odd ball” thing, for us, would’ve been the crescent roll dough but I’d recently bought a Costco pack of it so we had plenty for this dessert.

IMG_2185

  • Friday – I wrapped up the week with $10 gift cards (per teacher) to Target along with a nice note of appreciation using thank you cards we already own.

A gift or act of service nearly every day of the week (for two teachers) for a total of under $25. You can’t beat that!

What do you normally do for Teacher Appreciation Day?

How many gifts do you typically give your kids’ teacher and/or class in a year? At the beginning of the year we did a class gift, we did a teacher holiday gift around Christmas time, and now a teacher appreciation gift. Do you do an end-of-year gift, too??? Any other gift-giving occasions I’ve missed (we don’t know the teachers birthdays, for example).


Pages:1234567...43