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RueBucks – Christmas Present

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I mentioned earlier this month that I budget $150 to get Princess some winter clothes with the weather getting cold. On our drive back from Texas, we spent the night in Baton Rouge and ended up being across from a large mall on Black Friday evening.

After a day in the car and some hours to kill, we decided to hit the mall. And lo and behold, Princess’ favorite clothing store Rue21 was having a sale and she hadn’t spent any of her clothes money.

An hour later, she walked about with 1/2 new outfits for right at $80 – score!

Christmas Present on the Frugal Side

When I paid for the clothes I was informed we earned, 2 RueBucks. Which essentially means, if she shops again between December 26 and January 2, she can get $20 off her $40 purchase.

I got to thinking, I could buy her a gift card with $40 of the remaining clothes money I previously budgeted and then add these two RueBucks into her stocking, essentially giving her $20 extra dollars to spend. Is that a bad Christmas idea? To give someone something that is essentially is free.

I know she enjoys shopping at this store. She shops there every time she gets a chance (there is one an hour from us here in Northeast Georgia.)

I haven’t created a budget for Christmas presents. I know I should. I have begun picking up little stuff and it was all inside our trip budget so I haven’t used any extra money. But I really am focused on paying off debt and getting into a better financial place. I’m having a hard time balancing my desire to provide a Christmas for my three eldest and being as frugal as I have been the last few months.

Do you have a Christmas budget? How much do you spend on teenage children? I guess one of my challenges is that they don’t really “need” anything and their wants are pretty expensive…new computer, etc. So I have to find a middle ground I am comfortable with. And it’s not coming to me easily.

 

An Expensive Lesson – Pay before You Leave

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I learned an expensive lesson this trip. When you park at a Premium Parking lot in New Orleans, you must pay before you walk away from your car. You can probably guess that I did not do that…

And after a couple of hours of walking around and enjoying the sights, we came back to continue on our roadtrip to Texas to a boot on our rental car AND a sticker notifying me of a $90 fee to get the boot removed! Ugh!

At first, I thought it was an error. I thought maybe someone who had this rental car before us had not paid something and we were getting held accountable for it. It was very frustrating, especially since we had over 7 more hours to drive that day.

As I read the notice, and realized that we were booted because we had not pre-paid, I began to look around for signs that indicated that prepay was required. This was all I could see from the car…No pre-pay notice.

Needless to say, I had to call the number, pay the $90 and wait for them to come release us. All in all in took over 1 and 1/2 hours from the time we arrived back at the car until we were on the road again. Precious time when you are on a roadtrip, not to mention the money, I had not budgeted for. Again, ugh!

We did finally see a pre-pay notice…on our exit from the lot at the back of the lot!!!

Needless to say, I am going to dispute the charge and file a complaint and praying I can get that $90 back. But no guarantees.

As often as I have flown by the seat of my pants when it comes to finances, this was another lesson on why it is important to have a cushion and plan as much as you can for the unexpected. I was very grateful to have some extra built into my travel budget so this fee did not cause a hardship on the rest of our trip. And in the past, it very well could have!

We all experience car wrecks and car issues, medical emergencies and household challenges that can strain our finances. Have you ever been surprised by something like this that you truly don’t believe you should have to be responsible for?