Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Recent Struggles Update

Well, my husband and I are officially homeowners! We are still renting our house to our seller, due to the fact we also need to complete our lease at the end of July. We were completely thrilled that everything worked out okay and our closing went, well, as smooth as it could have gone.

Anyways, I'd also like to take this time to tell you about a recent struggle with consumerism that has been a problem with getting a new house. I have such an awful compulsion to fill it with new furniture. For some reason, since this is our first home, I find myself wanting it to look like a "real house". While I bought the previous piece of furniture in the last post on Craig's list, this has been one of my most difficult battles with consumerism in a while. Additionally, while I switched my major 7 times in undergrad, one of them was interior architecture, also known as interior design. When you know about all the colors, gadgets, and furniture that you have been staring at and learning about for years it is so hard to not think about putting it in your own place. I don't know how interior designers keep any money in the bank! I am artistic by nature, and enjoy projects like this where I am suddenly given the freedom to paint walls and exercise the other freedoms that come with being a new home-owner.

As I have likely said in a previous post, its so much better to replace items in the house one at a time, then they are more affordable, and I am using this post mainly to reaffirm that to myself. I keep telling myself our savings needs to stay put. Even when looking at used items, like I was considering a sewing machine so I could make throw pillows and curtains rather than to pay a high price for them, however, I haven't used a sewing machine since the 7th grade. I would really want to take a refresher class, which is an additional expense. I would like to think skills with a sewing machine would pay off in the long run as an investment, however, I am still debating about whether the class and sewing machine would be worth it or just wait to afford the appropriate home accents and decor.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's that time of the season

We have a strange tradition in my family, its been there as long as I can remember. My parents are incredibly frugal, and they have done so via the yard sale. We have both run them each year, and a frequent shoppers of them. When they come to visit me, it also seems to be a tradition, in addition to a game of who can find the best deal. Sometimes we try to find the goofiest things as well.

My husband and I just closed on our first house this past Monday (hence why my posts have been behind), and now we are amidst looking for some new pieces for our new home. Craigslist, which in my opinion, can be comparable to a rummage sale, has been a new haven for me to search. I just got this year old lounger for only $150 (after talking them down from $175 of course). Especially when we are moving into a new place, its tempting to fill it with new furniture we can't always afford. Here are some good tips to follow when we find ourselves in this situation:
  1. If looking for new pieces, fill your home slowly by replacing pieces one by one as you can afford them. A few months ago I posted on creating an account that puts a small amount of money in it every pay check. Before you know it, you'll have some money for a new piece.
  2. Rummage sales can be your best friend in this scenario. The best times to hit, especially when you live in a college town like myself, is during May and July when the summer is providing great weather and college students' apartment leases are close to being up. Many live on another side of the country and won't be able to take some of their things with them. If they are selling a lot of their items (mine was trying to get rid of everything in the house), there is a good chance you can probably get a better deal by talking them down in price. If you can't, don't be afraid to walk away - they are likely more despirate than you to get rid of their furniture since they will be charged if it still in their apartment after their lease is up.
  3. Craiglist can also be resourceful for links to both furniture, rummage sales in the area, or anything, as you may know.
  4. I have also been finding websites like overstock.com to be helpful in the search for new furniture at decent prices. If any of you know of other great websites, please let me know or share them in the comments!
Its amazing to find the big deals, plus there is even a greater sense of satisfaction when you know how much money you saved - brag to your friends!

My friend over at Green & Cheap has also just recently written on this subject, so be sure to check it out as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hair Cuts for Cheap

When I was a kid, my mother or grandmother always cut my hair. In fact, my mom did, and still does, cut many of my cousins' hair. However, both of them were also licensed cosmetologists. But for many families you don't have to be one to give haircuts. There are always commercials on for the next set of clippers to use on the men in the family. But what can women do?

I'm lucky to find that local beauty academies are great ways to save money on haircuts. Today I got my haircut for $7. When I go to my normal salon, I pay $25. If you are willing to sacrifice cutting the ties with your current salon or stylist, and perhaps not having a usual one either, consider going to get your hair cut by students. I've also read that if you are willing to get whatever style they choose, to be a model, you could get a hair cut for free.

Another issue for me is that I keep my hair very short. I struggle with it because to keep it at the desired length it has to be cut almost every 2 months, if not sooner. Shelling out $25 each time that frequently pained me a lot, but now, I can get them as often as I need, and I can keep the short hair that I love.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


This post is a part of a weekly section for the month of June on how to save money for weddings.

This is what I believe many people think of when the word "honeymoon" comes up. It is a conventional, prescribed way of seeing things, given to us by the many vacationing commercials from places like Sandals, etc. In fact, this is a photograph from my honeymoon, in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. I thought this was what I wanted, but in fact, I often say the wedding was for me and the honeymoon was for my husband. I found out I was not so fond of the excessive heat and humidity (especially in one of the worst months, August), and I was also stung by a jellyfish while swimming in the ocean off of the shore of our all-inclusive resort.

The recommendation of the all-inclusive resort came from my parents, who come to a place like this every year during the winter. While you can get your money's worth, if you aren't into drinking a lot, or eating a lot, you might want to reconsider your options. However, where we DID save money was the fact we did take this honeymoon in the off-season. We also took a package deal through Apple Vacations to save some money, which I don't know if I would recommend again, but technology keeps expanding every year and we now have great websites like Priceline.com, and Orbitz.com, that can offer stellar deals. I have been actually watching cruise line deals with Priceline for a while now, and last week there was a deal for a 4 day cruise to the Caribbean for $199 a person!

Booking through a travel agent you will come across extra fees, booking fees, etc., so I would recommend booking a trip for yourself if at all possible. The real deals will be online if you know the right places.

The other thing to note, as I was saying earlier, is make sure to find a place that both of you can have some fun. The tropics are just one place where people go. My parents went to Yellowstone Park, and my husband's parents went to Niagara Falls and Cooperstown, NY (My Father-in-law is a big baseball fanatic). If I could do it all over again, I would have considered a cruise. While they are all-inclusive too, I found myself bored sitting at a resort all day. I am someone who needs an adventure everyday, while my husband was content just reading a book on the beach. Find what is fun for the both of you! And while my parents recommended this to us, be sure its what YOU want.

Also, honeymoons do not have to be an extravagant expense, it is another thing pushed onto us by society. A couple of years ago my friends did a road trip of the state, another one of my friend's getting married next month is staying at a cabin for their honeymoon. Weddings are so much about prioritizing, because it is likely that everything you want will not be there. If you can live without a fancy honeymoon, than go without it. The important part is that you have fun and enjoy the special time to bond with your new spouse.