Monday, November 30, 2009

Winding Up November

For reasons I will blog about later, this is likely to be the last month where my indebtedness goes down.

But, surprisingly, down it did go--to the tune of $903.31 this month.

I'm happy with that.

Next month will be a different story.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday Helped Keep Me in the Black

My sister from New York comes out to see me every Thanksgiving.

First there was Thanksgiving itself. I have it down to an art. First, I have mastered the long-suffering sigh. Then, I say, wearily, "OK, OK, I'll stuff and bake the turkey. But if I do all that work, the rest of the family has to bring the rest of the food and clean up."

What a great scam given how easy roasting a turkey is! And at 23 cents a pound for a nearly 25 pound turkey, it didn't even cost all that much.

Then, another of our longstanding family traditions is to get up really early (4:00 a.m. this year) and hit the Black Friday sales. My sister does all of her family shopping for my family that day. I get the stuff I don't think will be as cheap again before Christmas.

I failed to get one of the $200 laptops at Wal-Mart. Apparently we had to be there by 2:00 a.m. when they handed out tickets.

But a local department store had every sock and bath towel in the place at 50% off, and I definitely scored some bargains.

Plus, two of my kids want WII's this year and I got them for $174 a piece.

Old Navy was a bonanza for kid's clothes and t-shirts--everything I wanted was $5 each.

I know I'm supposed to despair of the rampant consumerism that is unleashed on Black Friday, but I was too busy out there buying.

My Christmas budget, which is usually $2000 for tree, decor, and gifts for 12 kids and grandkids, plus assorted spouses/boyfriends, is $1600 this year.

I'm determined to stay within the budget, and Black Friday helped me meet that goal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

ATM Fees? Ya Gotta Be Kidding!

My oldest daughter (in her forties, so definitely old enough to know better!) and her husband overdrew their checking account. They now have an additional $66 in overdraft charges.


Because both of them were withdrawing $20 at a time from ATM's that did not service their bank.

So, maybe they use an obscure bank that doesn't have a lot of ATM's?

Nope. They bank with Bank of America.

They got lazy and just headed for the nearest ATM. Worse, they did not pay attention to the $2 "foreign ATM" fee. $2? No big deal, right? Well, not when it overdraws one's account! Not when subsequent checks bounce and incur more fees.

My poor daughter is getting no sympathy from me.

Only once in my life have I ever used a "foreign" ATM, and that was a really, really foreign one in Japan. It still made me unhappy to pay the fee. (Not to mention the additional $3 "foreign currency" fee my bank also tacked on.)

There are some minor expenses I am constitutionally unable to stomach--ATM fees being one of them. I will go out of my way to find an ATM that doesn't charge me extra or is connected to my bank.

Friday, November 13, 2009

News Flash! When You're Laid Off, STOP Spending!

Color me cynical, but how can I feel sorry for these folks profiled in the Wall Street Journal?

I am prepared to be sympathetic to anyone laid off during the past two years, but when I read that many of them didn't cut back a bit on their lifestyle because they thought the job loss was temporary, it makes me want to scream.

If the job loss is anticipated to be temporary, then why not TEMPORARILY CUT BACK ON EXPENSES????

Why would you continue to spend even on a temporary basis, knowing that you'd have to make it all up later?

And once you've been unemployed for several months, wouldn't that be a clue that getting another position might not be as easy as it looks?

What's up with turning down jobs because one wants something better? Heck, we all want something better, even folks like me who love the work we're currently doing.

It strikes me that many of these people feel ENTITLED. Entitled to make a large salary. Entitled to own fancy and expensive vehicles. Entitled to keep using credit cards when no income is on the horizon. In general, they feel entitled to enjoy the lifestyle they once had even if the economic realities should be telling them otherwise.

Sorry, but Grace just doesn't have more compassion to give to these folks who mourn the loss of their BMW's, not when I see the working classes engaged in a struggle to survive.