Sunday, December 27, 2009

Matching Careers With Personalities ... Or Not

Why is it that I'm always an easy target for the countless career and personality tests floating around the universe? Truthfully I'm not convinced that they are reliable, but they always seem to be more accurate than not with my results. Case in point, MY RESULTS ...

Personality type: "Determined Realist"
Practical, traditional and organized. Likely to be athletic. Not interested in theory or abstraction unless they see the practical application. Have clear visions of the way things should be. Loyal and hard-working. Like to be in charge. Exceptionally capable in organizing and running activities. 'Good citizens' who value security and peaceful living.

Careers that could fit you include:
Military, business administrators, managers, police/detective work, judges, financial officers, teachers, sales representatives, government workers, insurance agents, underwriters, nursing administrators, trade and technical teachers.

If you are interested in taking a career/personality test, click here; it's quick and easy. Don't forget to let us know how accurate - or not - the test results are for you.

BTW .... Merry Christmas and Happy early New Year;-).

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Dear Romeo


I miss you already buddy. You were the sweetest, smartest dog ever. Although I only knew you for a short time, you carved out an eternal impression in my heart. It's so amazing how you managed to steal my affection and cause some folks to refer to me as "delusional" because I'd go around calling you "my dog." (inside joke, i needed that laugh). You were my dog. You were everything I ever wanted in a dog. Your communication skills were grade A, your friendship was unconditional and your personality was almost human-like. I'm gonna miss sending you care packages filled with your favorite treats, peanut butter snacks, doggie biscuits, and of course, all things chicken. I really wished you would have hung on a few more days so that I could see you once more. Well, maybe it was best that I wasn't there when you decided to go to doggie heaven. Unashamedly I gotta tell you, I have a lump in throat that won't clear, and yes, I've shed a few tears too.

Bye bye my doggie brother. There's not another jack russell terrier, or any other dog that can replace you.

Small Business Pitfalls

We've all heard the scary statistics about how many small businesses fail in their infancy. Part of what I do is provide consulting work for small businesses so I see first hand what some of the biggest culprits are.

1. Too Much Borrowed Money
I'm not sure if this will continue to be as big of an issue because the banks have all but put a freeze on small business lending. If you're one of those unlucky/lucky ones who can get a lot of leveraged funding, borrower beware! I highly suggest starting a business with your own money or with investors. If you do have to borrow money, try not to be more than 50% leveraged. You may not have an employer but if you are borrowed up to your hairline, you are working for the banks, and that's not what you got into business to do. Here's a statistic for you ... 100% of the businesses that filed for bankruptcy were over leveraged. I don't need a source for that one, it's pretty self explanatory.

2. Wrong Motives
If your primary motive for starting your own business is based one of these statements, "I want to be my own boss," or "I don't want to work for anyone else," then you may be one of those small business casualties. Owning your own business is as glamours as it is messy. If you lack passion and discipline you won't have the necessary ingredients to push past the pain and pursue the full potential of the business. You need something more than a disdain for working for someone else.

3. Lack of Planning
Planning is very important and covers everything from finances to marketing. For brevity, let's stick to the financial part of planning. Remember that employer who kindly withheld all of your taxes, and paid them on time to the federal and state governments? Well you kicked them to the curb so it's all on you. You can't just collect the income and forget to pay your real employer (i.e., the gov't) their cut. I've seen several small businesses get into this rut and for those who survived, they came out with very little skin left in tact. You do not, and I repeat, do not, want to get into a situation where you're behind on self-employment and employer taxes. You'd be left wondering if you owe the gov't or a loan shark. Can you say compounded interest DAILY!

4. No Marketing
So what if you have the best product or offer the most fabulous service, if no one knows you exist what good is that doing you? Marketing doesn't have to be very expensive. At a minimum you should have a website and some business cards. Depending on where you shop around, this could be a $200 or less initial investment. Perhaps I'm a website snob, but you'd be hard pressed to get me to do business with an establishment that does not have a website. That's the first thing I ask for when I call or if I'm speaking to someone about their business.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Overcoming Challenges

A few weeks ago I shared 5 challenges with being a new entrepreneur (or solopreneur as it's sometimes called). Learning to overcome challenges head on is a skill set that I'm guessing most successful business owners possess. Here are some things that I've done, currently doing, or in the process of doing, to overcome the challenges I've identified thus far:

Challenge #1 - It's all you boo!

Yes, it's still all me but hopefully that will end soon. To help reduce costs, I share an office space with another business - that just so happens to offer a service that marries well with what I'm doing. The owner and I have discussed bringing in an administrative person to help both of us, which would be a great cost savings. Another option is to bring on independent contractors as the need arises. By using contractors, my expenses will be more directly aligned with revenues. Eventually it is my goal to have full time employees; I look forward to the day when I can help nurture other people's careers and goals.

Challenge #2 - Social Isolation!

This is probably the easiest challenge to overcome. For starters, don't isolate yourself from your friends (duh, right). I hung out with one of my buds last night and we had a blast. Yes I miss seeing her everyday, but not seeing her everyday made yesterday even more special and fun. Secondly, there is the local chamber of commerce, which I plan to join soon and hopefully build new relationships with other small business owners. Lastly, I get to play on facebook more now that I'm not behind the corporate firewalls. It's amazing how much social media helps us to stay connected with people.

Challenge #3 - Income!

We all know that word of mouth is often the best form of marketing. Super serving my clients is my #1 goal. The majority of my projects have come through referrals so I haven't had to market much. It is my plan to do more marketing in the very near future. Another aspect to protecting and managing my income is to invoice timely and appropriately. Depending on the scope of the project, I may request a retainer or progress billing if it's expected to go beyond 30 days.

Challenge #4 - Stagnation!

Again, this one is easy. I continue to subscribe to newsletters and other periodicals that keep me updated. I also attend conferences and business/professional development seminars. Lastly, I have joined 2 organizations specifically geared toward my service and business.

Challenge #5 - No PTO!

Who cares?! If I overcome challenges 1, 3 & 4, I can have as much or as little PTO as I like. I'm taking off 2 weeks for Christmas, and in case you haven't heard, I'm headed to St. Lucia in a few months;-).

To conclude, I think the benefits far outweigh the costs. I'm doing something that I love to do, I'm helping and serving everyday folks (not just corporate shareholders) and I'm learning so much on a daily basis. Entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, but it's definitely not as scary as some of us have convinced ourselves to believe. In my experience, the hardest part so far was making the decision.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Whoo Hoo!

Whoo hoo, listen carefully ... can you hear that? It's the sound of waves crashing. Stand still ... do you feel that? It's the coolness of the tropical breeze. Mmm, mm ... can you taste that? It's the sweet taste of mimosas every morning. Oooh, look over there ... do you see that? It's the breathtaking view of pristine beaches and tropical rainforests. Where are you? You're on the beautiful island of St. Lucia. Uhm hmm, yeah baby (in my austin powers voice), someone is going on a vacation in less than 6 months!

Let's take a stroll down memory lane to January when I solicited vacation suggestions here. Finally, I am going to take an adult vacation. No 2 and 3 night quickies, a full 7 night stay in a villa on the beautiful island of St. Lucia! Yippee!!!

Wanna go? You're more than welcome. Hey, the more the merrier;-).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Retirement Planning

Blogpal 444express had a few interesting posts on her personal stock transactions that got me to thinking. Personally I don't invest in individual stocks for several reasons, but the main reason is because I'm just too lazy to do so. Unlike 444express, I am not a very diligent person when it comes to watching and studying stocks and their movements daily, weekly, or heck, even annually. I'm a mutual fund kind of girl ... give me a little of everything in one swoop.

My laziness doesn't just stop with individual stocks, I don't even watch my mutual funds ... at all, if ever, well maybe annually when I'm calculating my net worth for the year. The only retirement account that I review quarterly is my ROTH, and that's because the contributions are mine at any time, without any penalty or taxes - so in essence, I kind of see my ROTH as a glorified savings account, that I can't touch unless the world has turned upside down. As for the 401K accounts that were rolled over into a traditional IRA, I don't take one measly look at them. Hmm, that doesn't sound too responsible, huh?

Quite frankly I'm not too concerned about how they perform. I have yet to get it into my head that my "retirement" should be based on the amount of money I saved through retirement vehicles invested in paper assets. I'm more concerned with paying off my mortgage and being completely debt free. I know medical costs can be a beast on one's retirement savings so that's one reason why I was making maximum contributions to my HSA account every year. With socialized medicine on the horizon, who knows what we will need to do to address medical care in those golden years. I'll continue to maximize my HSA and adjust as necessary.

As for retirement planning, here are my initiatives (in order of priority):
  • Continue building and growing current business
  • Continue to build HSA account (as long as it makes sense to do so)
  • Continue investing in ROTH IRA
  • Payoff mortgage (never have another one again)
  • Invest in other businesses (currently developing the framework)
  • Invest in real estate
  • Invest in paper assets (i.e., stocks and bonds)
Now that's diversification;-). How are you planning for "retirement?"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Product Review - OMG Goodness!!!

My beloved Trader Joes has done it again. I splurged on a box of organic Chai Tea ($3.29 for 20 bags) and let me tell you - I'll do it again and again and again. The "recipe" suggested that you bring 8 ounces of water to a boil, steep the tea bag for 4 - 5 minutes and if you desire, add a splash of milk for richness. I chose to boil some almond milk instead of water and then steeped the tea bag for several minutes. OMG!!! It was so delicious. I added absolutely no sweetener at all (one could argue that this is not a true statement since I used the vanilla flavored almond milk:-).

If you like chai tea, I highly recommend giving this product a try. Although I kept it basic, there are many options to jazz up your cup of goodness. A friend has decided to add some Bailey's Irish Cream to their cup ... hmm ... I'll pass, it's wonderful as is to me. Simple and plain, that's how I'll drink this beauty. Now that I think about it this wasn't a splurge because I can enjoy a cup of chai tea for about 17 cents. That's much cheaper than the occasional Caribou Coffee or Starbucks splurge. SCORE!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If ... Then

Today has been one of those days where I find myself having random thoughts, about nothing in particular. Here's a sneak peak of my randomness:

IF soap is supposed to be a cleaning agent, THEN why is the residue (i.e., soap scum) hard to clean?

IF the "red" onion is really purple, THEN why is it called a red onion?

IF Washington is so great at fiscal policy, THEN why can't they balance their books?

IF Christmas is December 25 every year, THEN why the mad rush in December as if it's a surprise ... and why the crazy charging as if it's an emergency?

IF I can get shrimp & fish from the coast of Savannah and the Gulf Coast, THEN why is it cheaper to purchase shrimp & fish that are shipped over from China, Thailand and Vietnam.

See random. Do you have any IF ... Then's that you'd like to share?

Monday, November 30, 2009

How Ridiculous

I stopped eating beef over 10 years ago and never looked back. Every few months there's another food recall related to E. coli, salmonella, botulism, and whatever other food borne illness that's out there. Beef is not the only culprit, we've seen veggies such as spinach and other staples, such as peanut butter, take a hit as well. Perhaps it's just me, but I'm a tad bit concerned with the blatant lack of responsibility being displayed in the food industry and co-signed by the gov't. Okay, I may have stretched it with the botulism, but you get the point;-).

For example, here's
an excerpt from consumer advocate Clark Howard's syndicated radio show related to a recent beef recall:

Nov 17, 2009 -- Ground beef recall results after plant stopped E. coli testing
More than 500,000 pounds of ground beef was recalled late last month after two people died and estimated 500 were sickened by an E. coli outbreak, according to The New York Times.

The tainted beef came from a meat-packer in Ashville, N.Y. that reportedly stopped testing for E. coli two years ago at the request of beef suppliers (are you kidding me?!). Surprisingly, E. coli testing is not required by the Department of Agriculture. It's only recommended sans any legal enforcements for not doing it (okay, so we're just relying on self policing in an industry that can give a rats boom boom about anything other than profit?! Yeah, that's great and comforting to know. ***side note, this is just one example why relying on Gov't to "take care" of you is such an awful idea!)

The recall has prompted Trader Joe's to stop sourcing its meat from the affected plant (aah, my beloved Trader Joes. Way to go, take action!). The grocer also now wants its other suppliers to test all ground beef for the deadly bacteria.

Costco Wholesale is the only large national retailer that mandates E. Coli testing. Perhaps Costco can do so because it uses its own grinding facilities. (How sad. Great for Costco, sad that no one else gives a hoot.)

Too often it seems like the Department of Agriculture feels its responsibility is to protect processing plants and beef suppliers, not the American consumer. (yep, and amen.)

Clark is an unabashed free-marketer, but he knows that there needs to be some referees in place for capitalism to work optimally. The marketplace suffers when there's no cop on the beat. Consumers need to feel confident that the feds are on the case to make sure their food is safe.

***It's my plan to venture into a little square foot gardening this spring. We'll see if my plans come to fruition. Oh, and one last thing, if you haven't done so, you should check out the movie Food, Inc. I thought it was pretty well done.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

5 Challenges of the Great Exodus

This is a follow-up to my previous post where I discussed 5 benefits to the great exodus. As I mentioned before, I'm sure that I'll continue to discover more benefits as time goes on, but those were just a few that I immediately identified. On the other hand, I have also identified 5 "challenges" to the great exodus. I put "challenges" in quotes because I've already begun to put things in place to overcome them. Yay me! So here goes:

  1. It's all you boo! Yep, you're everything. You're the service provider, the marketing exec, the bookkeeper, the administrative assistant, the janitor, the mail clerk, the billing department ... and in the event a customer's check doesn't clear ... the collection agency. Until you're able to outsource some of those functions, running your own business is NOT just about doing that one thing you want to do - you actually have to run the operations of the business as well.
  2. Social Isolation! Remember that cubicle environment I mentioned in the previous post? It has come to my attention that even with all of the ickiness that comes along with cubicle land, there is one major benefit - camaraderie amongst like-minded folks. I was always fortunate to have wonderful co-workers whom I enjoyed greatly. Now it's just me and my PC and sporadic e-mails to former co-workers saying things like "I miss y'all." LOL. If you don't care much for the folks you work with, this wouldn't be on your list of challenges to overcome.
  3. Income! As my blog pal Christine mentioned in the comments section of the 5 benefits, income is a double edge sword. Yes the salary limitations are lifted but, so are the "guaranteed" paychecks. Being an entrepreneur definitely demands you to dig into your inner Type A personality and pull out that tenacity and fortitude required to go out, kill something and bring home the bacon - and maintain your integrity and character.
  4. Stagnation! If you're in a field that continues to evolve and requires you to stay on top of new rules, regs, technology, etc, you can possibly become stagnant in your technical knowledge. Why? Well because this type of education is generally acquired through on the job training or outside courses - yeah the ones your employer used to pay for. Keeping abreast on the developments of your field is another overhead cost that you have to carry. Many people skimp on this part but I don't think that's a very good idea.
  5. No PTO! Remember that pitiful 2 weeks of vacation that you often complain about? Heck, who am I kidding, my last gig gave me 4 weeks of vacation so yeah 2 weeks would be pitiful to me too;-). As an entrepreneur there is no PTO (paid time off). In my case specifically, my income is earned by services that I provide. Basically I barter my time and knowledge in exchange for dollars and cents. No work, no pay ... little work, little pay, you get the picture.

Will more challenges introduce themselves? I'm sure of it. These are just the ones I've identified as a one month old entrepreneur;-).

Soon to come ... how I overcome or plan to overcome these current challenges.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Most Dangerous Cake Recipe in the World!

This recipe was sent to me via e-mail. I haven't tried it yet but if anyone has or does before I do, please let me know;-).


4 TBS flour
4 TBS sugar
2 TBS cocoa
1 egg
3 TBS milk
3 TBS oil
3 TBS chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (microwave safe)
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. Eat!

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now you are only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night;-).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

5 Benefits of the Great Exodus

It's been almost a month since the great exodus and I've already discovered 5 great benefits. I'm sure I'll discover more in due time.
  1. No more open cubicle environment - in this day of swine flu and other highly contagious illnesses, I'm so happy that I no longer sit in a cubicle environment where germs lurk ever so freely, looking for some innocent person to pounce on. Actually the germs in and of themselves are not to blame, it's those unsavory co-workers who refuse to cover their mouths when they cough, who lick their finger to separate papers and hand one off to you (oh gosh, I HATE that) or use the same piece of tissue to wipe/blow their nose all throughout the day.
  2. No more potlucks - unfortunately I'm not one who enjoys potlucks in a large group setting. I apologize if I offend anyone, but holiday potlucks are not my cup of tea. Usually I'm the one at the potluck looking for the items that were purchased and not made. I became potluck shy when I first observed ADULTS who would use the restroom and not wash their hands afterwards. Question, if you don't wash your hands after you use the restroom, just when do you wash them? At first I thought it was just an isolated incident, but no, it happens far too frequently for my taste - no pun intended.
  3. No more salary limitations - my income is completely up to me. I will now see a direct relationship between what I put in and what I get out. No more corporate limitations. No more forced "bell curve" for evaluations and raises, which brings me to the next benefit.
  4. No more obscure evaluations - oh my goodness this must have been my Achilles heel at the end of my corporate career. My employer's annual evaluation process was just HR formality, no real career planning, no real comments that encouraged growth, just blah. In addition, there was a forced bell curve to ensure that the majority of the employees were scored a 3, or average --- so you could bust your butt but that didn't matter because excelling had become the new average. So much for the motivation factor.
  5. No more unnecessary meetings - we would have so many meetings on a daily basis that I often wondered when I would get any work done. We'd have a meeting to discuss the need for an agenda for an upcoming meeting, then we'd meet to go over the agenda and see if there were any changes needed; if there changes then we'd have to meet again to make sure everyone was okay with the changes, then we'd have said meeting, and of course we would have to meet afterwards to go over what we discussed in the meeting. After all of that, we'd have another meeting to get the next manager up the chain caught up, and then if he/she had any additional questions, we're back to meeting number 1 and going through the process all over again! I'm not kidding. I have some readers who are still in that environment and they can attest that I'm telling the truth. In fact, I might have left out a few meetings in the process.

So, is everything rosy on this side of the fence? Of course not. There are thorns in every rose bush. I'll write another post listing the "cons" of the great exodus in the near future.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

798 ... So What

Earlier this week I went to the credit union to transfer my Health Savings Account from the soon to be fee based account at a big brick and mortar bank - remember, my previous employer covered the fees as an employee benefit, but now that I'm no longer an employee, the benefit goes away.

Side note: can I tell you how beautiful the credit union was on the inside? Wow, either this one is special or I've just been missing out since I never seemed to qualify for any memberships. There were specialty coffees, bottled water, baked goods, friendly employees, comfortable seating, gorgeous decor, you name it ... just completely different than what I'm used to. What does any of this have to do with 798? Glad you asked.

As I was sitting with the rep waiting on her to process my paperwork, she said "wow, you have a credit score of 798." Perhaps I was supposed to be happy or proud of myself, but I was actually pretty stoic. I wasn't sure what kind of response she expected, if any at all. I've vented before about my frustration with our obsession over the fico score. It's my goal to never borrow money again, so if I'm not going to borrow money, mister fico becomes less of a factor in my life. To some I might trend on a little financial irresponsibility because I don't check the score. Well, to that I say this, I pay all of my bills on time and I check my credit report at least once a year (primarily to watch out for identity theft). My home purchase in 2003 was the last time I borrowed money. Prior to the rep telling me what my score was, I had no idea. And now that I know it, so what;-).

You know what's crazy? There was a time in the very recent past that my 798 score would have given me access to all kinds of debt, even though my income right now is zero! How does that happen ... easy, the fico score only measures how you handle debt, it's not an indication that you can really afford what you're trying to buy. I could have gotten a mortgage easily, with zero income. Why? Because my fico score would've had lenders and underwriters drooling over me, anxious to throw money at me. Oh, and don't let me get started on the pre-approved credit card offers. I accumulated a month's worth of pre-approved credit offers once and they grossly totalled a quarter of a million dollars worth of credit opportunities.

Not to worry, I won't always have this problem because one day I won't have any debt, including my mortgage, and then mister fico will turn on me and my score will begin to drop? You see, if I don't have any debt to service, mister fico doesn't have anything to measure ... and well, if mister fico doesn't have anything to measure, nothing divided by nothing is zero.

In my opinion, credit scoring has its place, but it shouldn't be the end all, be all. Any system that penalizes me for not borrowing money is a system that I bow out of graciously and happily.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bull Anyone?

Well, well, well, we knew it, didn't we? We knew that the banks would pull some magic out of their hats before the credit card reform laws take effect. A few provisions went into effect in August, but the lion share of the provisions are not scheduled to start until February 2010 (I'm hearing that Congress is working on a bill to move the effective date up to December 1, 2009 but I'm not sure if or when that will pass). Mind you, this credit card reform act was signed into law in May 2009 - why the long wait before it's enacted, beats me ... perhaps I need to brush up on my legislative knowledge. Anywho, a few of the new laws are:
  • Raising Rates: Banks have to give 45 day notice before raising a consumer's rate (unless you're on a variable rate card which most of the banks have begun switching customers to)
  • Penalty Fees: Banks can't charge over-limit fees unless the consumer has asked for this additional credit.
  • Youth Marketing: Banks can't extend credit cards to people under 21 without verifying their ability to pay (i.e., proof of income) or obtaining parental permission.
  • Unfair Billing: The practices of universal default and double-cycle billing are no longer allowed.
  • Disclosures: Banks must clearly disclose how long it will take to pay off the balance if only the minimum payment is made.

Because the banks have long since made a boat load of money off of their fees, they have gone back to the drawing board to find new ways to assess fees on their beloved or hated customers. For example, BOA is "experimenting" with charging customers an annual fee of $29 - $99. Other banks such as JP Morgan and Citigroup are implementing similar practices. There are even talks that we may see additional fees on other traditional banking products like checking accounts.

Are these not the same banks that taxpayers bailed out less than a year ago? This is absolutely ridiculous. You have our tax dollars, we saved your tushes, and this is how you thank us? I only have one credit card that I use solely for online purchases and travel. If my card issuer (Citi) comes to me with an unsavory offer of bull crap, aka, an annual fee, I'll glady return the favor by asking them to close my account ... immediately ... with the quickness ... like do it right now! I don't care how many rewards and incentives a credit card offers, I am not going to pay annual fees to use their card, period.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If I Could, I Would

If I could, I would make personal finance a mandatory competency in our educational system. It doesn't matter who or where you are in life, everyone participates in the economics of this society. For goodness sake, I have a business degree and still came out of school not knowing diddly squat about how to manage my own finances. If I didn't get it in a business program, where is it being taught? I'm not crapping on my school because I think the problem is universal. And yes, it would also be nice if some of this was taught at home as well.

How often do we hear, "if I knew then what I know now ...?" For me the ellipses would say, "I would not have spent my entire 20's getting in and out of debt." Certainly I'm not alone in that. Why can't personal finance, which is a fundamental life skill in my opinion, be as important as the other primary subjects such as math and science?

Furthermore, I'd love it if those who were in government offices that influence fiscal policies and/or spend taxpayers dollars were required to have some sort of higher level of personal finance training. No where else in this county can you legally write a blank check other than Washington, D.C and other state capitals. Each year my local newspaper publishes an article that lists all of the elected officials who are delinquent with their taxes. What in the ham sandwich are they doing in elected office, governing fiscal policy for a state, and they can't govern their personal finances? Maybe, just maybe we wouldn't have so much waste in government if financial education was a requirement. Maybe we wouldn't have social services that have run amuck if everyone (with the mental capacity to do so) had some sort of basic financial understanding. Maybe the real estate crash could have been avoided or at least tamed. I can go on and on but I think you get the picture. Do I think financial education is a panacea - no, it's just a good place to start.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Home Value Down ... Property Taxes Up

Earlier this year I was all gitty because my county sent a letter telling me that the taxed value of my home had changed, it had decreased by a few thousand dollars. I purchased my home about 6 years ago in a somewhat mature neighborhood so we didn't see the cost run-ups that occurred in the last decade. Nonetheless we, like everyone else, felt some level of impact by the real estate burst so the letter wasn't totally unexpected. However, the letter the followed a few months later was a gitty thief.

Imagine my surprise when I received the property tax bill and it was a couple of hundred bucks more than it was last year. What? That's not how the relationship works. When values go down so do the associated taxes, and vice versa. What's up with this inverse relationship between home values and property taxes? Hmph. Luckily my friendships are such that we can talk about personal finances. I was one day away from harassing my county tax commissioner when my dear friends reminded me that our beloved state is NOT providing the homestead credit this year because, eh hem, they're in a fiscal fiasco. Oh, yeah, I forgot about that, rats.

Because my property taxes are escrowed my mortgage is sure to increase by roughly $20 each month to accommodate for next year's taxes (the mortgage company use last year's figures to determine the monthly amount for the upcoming year). Additionally, I'll have to come up with the shortfall by February since this is when the mortgage company reassesses my escrow account. I'm anticipating that letter so I'll begin planning for the extra expense. What have we learned here today ladies and gents ... the government giveths, and the government takeths away.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Going Chartreuse

It's been a minute since I developed an interest in being more environmentally conscious. Going green can be such a huge lifestyle change so I thought it would be best for me to tackle it in very small baby steps. My first steps taken were purchasing reusable grocery bags and replacing blown light bulbs with those CFC energy efficient light bulbs. Okay, those steps are operating effortlessly now so I think it's time to make another move. So, what's next on project going light green, chartreuse if you will ... a couple of cleaning supplies.

1. All Purpose Cleaner. The Healthy Hostess has several simple, green clean recipes that I will try eventually. The first on deck is her all purpose cleaner recipe below. You can check out other great recipes for oven and toilet bowl cleaners by clicking on her link.
  • 2 cups of white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups of water
  • optional - drops of essential oil (your choice)

2. Laundry Detergent. Now I must admit, I'm a little shy about this one because I've bought into the spiel that I must purchase one of the top brands to get the best results. Nonetheless, I'm going to try it since trusted bloggers such as The Lost Goat and Jabs at Debt Free Adventure have all tried it with great success. There are also a host of great tips and recipes here, at Tipnut. I plan to make a powder version with this simple recipe found on both Jab's and Tipnut's sites.

Basically it's a 2 to 1 ratio from what I can tell; 2 parts shaved soap to 1 part borax and 1 part washing soda. Jab did a great job with his pictorial tutorial and he does an excellent job with the cost breakdown as well - I'm not as much concerned about the cost but it's great info.

Who knew I would be so excited about making my own laundry detergent. Geez louise, what's happening to me? Hmm, I'm not sure but I like it so off to the store I go. Have a great weekend everyone!

***FYI ... I'm not sure why the hyperlinks don't show up with a line under them if you receive these posts via email. For those who receive e-mails of the posts I believe the hyperlinks show up as blue colored words, such as The Healthy Hostess and Tipnut. Just in case it's not blue for all e-mail readers, you can tell if a word is a hyperlink or not because it would be the same color as the post's title. For those who read via the blog, the same is true except the color isn't blue - it's the same reddish-orangish color used for the title and signature. Are we all clear as mud now? Thanks loyal reader who brought this to my attention;-).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Playbook - HSA

I'm excited to report that I have found a financial institution where I can transfer my Health Savings Account. Initially I was going with Bancorp because they seemed to offer what I was looking for - easy maintenance and fee free - with a $2,500 balance. I didn't like the balance requirement but it was the best offer that I could find. I've been building my HSA for a few years so I have the required minimum balance, but still, I don't like contingencies with my bank accounts. If I leave my HSA with the current bank I will incur a $3 per month fee since I'm no longer at the corp gig. My ex-employer picks up the monthly fee on their employees' behalf.

Luckily for me I never stopped perusing and looking around. One day I happened to look at the website of a credit union that's very close to my house. To my surprise I saw that they offered HSAs but I couldn't find the fee schedule. I called the credit union to inquire about the associated fees and the rep said, "we don't have any." LOL. I love it. Awesome. No minimums, no fees, no shenanigans. She then asked if I was a member and I said no, what are the qualifications? Her first question was "where do you live?" After I responded she said, "okay, you're qualified. You just need to open a savings account with at least $5." How funny. Okay, keep in mind that this credit union has been around for many years and its membership was reserved for employees of a specific family of companies, now the rules are more relaxed and membership is available to those who otherwise wouldn't have been able to join.

Loosening the membership belt is a great business move for the credit unions in this ailing economy. After all, it's the financial institutions that are buckling at the knees the most. Who knew that the infamous USAA would ever open their membership to who-so-ever will? You don't have access to all of the products but hey, they were as closed as a secret society fraternity at one point. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but they, like all credit unions, were reserved only for a specific group of people - thanks to the recession (or just a weird coincidence), things are changing. Yippee for those of us who never found themselves in the right circle to be a member of the credit unions ... with all of their lower rates on loans and higher rates on savings and fee-less banking. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Should I Dip Into the E-fund?

I'll try to keep this short since I'm so pee-d off and highly irritated. I took a bunch of clothes to the dry cleaners in preparation for the changing season and guess what ... they lost them! This wasn't just any bunch, this was my good bunch. You know the kind, your power suits, perfectly fitting slacks, that classic white blouse that your hardly wear because it has to be dry cleaned and you can't wear it more than once, comfortable fitting sweaters, so on and so forth. What timing! No steady income at this point, season changing, and now I need to go shopping and buy more clothes.

Supposedly there was a break-in and seven orders were taken, mine included. There was no glass broken, why, because according to the worker or owner that I spoke with, their sliding door is easy to break into. What? Are you kidding me? Why was that not fixed? So I asked about the alarm? What luck these thieves have because apparently it happened on the night when we had a lot of rain and the electricity was out. Really. Uh huh. This is sounding more and more like an inside job to me. So, they have an official police report and their insurance company is coming out this week to go over estimates. What estimates? I bet it won't even meet their deductible because THEY didn't suffer any losses, only 7 customers! Oooooh I'm so pissed. Okay, I have to stop now because I'm getting too worked up over something that is completely out of my control.

I shared all of this to ask one question ... is this a valid reason to dip into the E-fund? This will be the first time I've had to do so. I don't mind using the E-fund because that's what it's there for, but to have to use it because the dry cleaners stole my clothes, Urrrrghh!!!!!!

***I'm told their policy when they "lose" your clothes is typically 10x what you would have paid them to clean it. It just so happens that this dry cleaners was running a 10 pieces for $19.99 special. I've been w/them for years so I had no reason to suspect anything. Based on their sale price, for every 10 pieces they would normally reimburse someone $199.90. Oh heck no, one of my suits cost $150 alone, and that was on sale! He told me that he's not sure what they're going to due since this was a break-in ... hence why they're meeting w/the insurance folks this week. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Great Exodus

Yes I've been ghost, but with good cause.... I did it, I left the corporate gig! I'll have to catch everyone up but in the meantime I just wanted to let you know what's been going on for the past few weeks. (here are a few oldies if you're not sure what I'm talking about - 1, 2 and 3)

Initially I was hoping for a 12/31/09 or 1/31/2010 exit date but I couldn't take it any longer. Exhaustion was setting in and my productivity level was sliding fast. No longer could I pull double duty, mentally or physically and it wasn't fair to me or to my employer.

Did I accomplish my savings goal - no, but you know what ... I realized that it will never "look" like enough money. After all, the worst thing that could happen is I will have to rejoin the workforce as an employee again. I know, I know, we're in a recession, jobs are scarce, blasey blasey blah - hey, what can I say, I'm willing to see where this road takes me. If not now, when? Here's a quote that I recently wrote and have since meditated on daily:

Fear is the greatest disability and comfort runs a close second. What's stopping you from pursing your passion, living your dreams and proactively designing your future?

***on another note, the running isn't coming along too good. Let's see if I can do it by the end of the year. The odds are against me, but hey, I'm willing to keep up the embarrassment for a little while longer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Playbook Update - Insurance

Remember the playbook? I'm so happy to say that although I'm falling behind on the summer goal (which is quickly becoming a joke), I am making progress on the playbook. After much, and I do mean much, research I finally applied for a health insurance policy. Gosh, after all of the debate over health insurance and all of the horror stories, I was a little intimidated and careful to answer each and every question asked. The last thing I want is to have a claim denied or my insurance policy rescinded because I neglected to answer something incorrectly.

Medical - On yesterday I received confirmation that my application had been approved with no adjustments. That means that the underwriters didn't find anything to exclude or anything that would cause the rate to be more than what was quoted. Yippee!! I will be able to continue with my beloved high deductible health plan but now I have to shop around for another health savings account (HSA) at a financial institution. Currently I do not pay any fees for my HSA because my employer covers them. Now I'm on the hunt for an account that won't charge me fees. There's something about me paying you to hold my money that just doesn't sit well with me, not at all!

As far as the cost, I budgeted $250 for my monthly insurance expense ... and that was to cover both health premiums and HSA contributions. The plan I have is $91.18 per month so that means I'll contribute $158.82 per month to my HSA (the IRS limit is either $2,900 or $3,000 for single payers). Oh yeah, prior to completing the app, I checked with my medical providers to see if they accepted the insurance that I was applying for, yep they all do!

Dental - I'm going to pass for now and just pay for the cleanings out of the HSA. The cost benefit for dental insurance isn't worth it to me. I'd pay about $40 per month with a $50 deductible, only to get $1,000 of coverage. So $40 a month equals $480 a year - plus the $50 deductible is $530. So you're telling me that I have to put in $530 to get $1,000, no thank you. Since my dentist charges about $100 for cleanings, I'll just pay it on my own. The way I see it, I come out ahead. Now let's just hope that I don't have any major dental work needed. If I do, I'll get some insurance at that time and wait out the exclusion period. LOL.

I'm getting closer to the great exodus!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The $36 Sandwich and Fruit Plate

Yesterday I was craving a sandwich (panini to be exact) and some fresh fruit so I proceeded to take me and my cravings to Publix to get all the fixings for my make-shift panini. Nearly $36 dollars later I had almost everything (the avocados didn't look too good so I ventured to Kroger where they were $1 each). I'm wondering if I would have been better off just buying the sandwich and some fruit from the deli or even another sandwich shop such as Quiznos.

***10 minutes later***

Apparently there is some kind of internal problem that's preventing me from uploading the receipt. I'll post the link at the end if you're interested in viewing.

So, did this unplanned $36 trip to the grocery store bust the budget? I mean after all, it's not secret that I constantly struggle to stay on budget at the grocery store. Luckily I did not go over budget this time - reason being, I haven't been cooking so I haven't spent much of the grocery shopping allowance. Ha! By default I'm still ahead. Hey, I'll take a win however I can;-). Whooty Hoo!!

P.S. As promised, click here to view the grocery list.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Goal Update 2

If at first you don't succeed, try again, and again, and once more. Yep, that's what I'm going to do. I set a goal to run 100 miles by the end of August. It can be argued that I failed miserably. Seriously, from the looks of it I wonder if I even tried?! Oh well, I'm lacing up the running shoes and striving to accomplish the goal again through the end of September. Even though I didn't come close to my goal, I did better than the sidebar reflects. Somewhere along the way I stopped updating my tracking sheet, thinking to myself "I'll remember how many miles I ran and update it later." Yeah, NOT! So here I go once again, 75 miles to run by September 30th. Can I do it, yes; will I do it, hmm, we'll see. Here is the infamous crossroad that often eludes many, the intersection of desire and discipline. We often have desires for a preferred end but lack the discipline or stamina to see it through. The way I see it, desire is the vehicle and discipline is the gasoline, you can only run on fumes for so long. Someone once told me to never let my car get below 1/4 of a tank of gas because garbage can get into your fuel line which will eventually cause your car to run badly. The same is true with our goals, when we become less and less disciplined, "garbage" begins to fill the gap and before you know it, we're off course and heading towards a different destination - the repair shop to get retooled and refocused, if possible. Now that I'm refocused, let's see if I can keep the tank at or close to full.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Did That Happen?

Yikes ... how did that happen? Wow, remember when I said I would let my hair down a bit and take a break from frugality (here)? Well, now I remember why I budget in the first place. You see, I didn't just take a break, I broke the budget! Yes ma'am, yes sir, I just lost my ever loving mind. In the words of Sophia from The Golden Girls, picture this ...

Georgia, summer 2009, warm weather, extended daylight hours, cheap flights, new restaurants, the euphoric feeling of life that summer brings, yes, all the makings for a good excuse to loosen the budget just a tad. A tad indeed is what I hoped for, but as it's been said, give someone an inch and they'll take a mile. According to citibank, I have a balance of $711.99 on my credit card! What, huh, just for the month of July?! Funny how those little $20 and $30 transactions added up to a number much bigger than I imagined. Please believe me, $712 is way outside of my comfort zone for frivolous, unaccounted for spending.

Since the majority of the transactions were less than $30, I'm not going to spend too much time trying to add up each and every purchase. There is one culprit that I think requires me to be in the financial hall of shame for July. You'd have to really know me to understand the gravity of what I'm about to say ... I spent $201.60 on freaggin costume jewelry last month! Yes, $201.60. Now, I'm not even a jewelry kind of girl, definitely not costume jewelry. You know what happens, a friend invites you to their "party" and if you're like me, you want to show your support so you buy something (my friend is not the type to pressure you, she actually hates that I feel this way). Because you want a good deal, you offer to host a "party" as well, giving in to the gluttony of getting something for free or darn near free. Then you have a party and of course, you can't have a party and not purchase more stuff because you're getting all of these great deals, right?! Granted, I have some fabulous pieces that I absolutely love, and honestly, I'm happy that I have them. It's a good thing for Lia Sophia that I was on a frugal hiatus or I wouldn't have purchased any of it. I have them, I love them, it was a weak moment, I'm over it. Oh yeah, in case you're interested, you really can't beat their return policy and yes, I am very happy with my selections - 9 necklaces and 4 pairs of earrings.

The remaining balance consists of an airline ticket for $139.40 and a bunch of this and a little of that. Wow, so how did that happen, yeah, I think we all know.
P.S., I primarily use my credit card for online purchases, travel and recurring monthly expenses such as the gym and netflix. It's paid off every month.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reality Check

Intentions are great but I can't seem to convert them into executable actions as it relates to this blog. Honestly, a day doesn't go by without me thinking about typing a post. Most of you are fully aware that I'm working on a career transition. It's been bitter sweet because things have picked up at the new career (the sweet) but they've also picked up significantly at the existing career (the bitter). So, my reality check is this, regardless how much I desire to blog consistently, that may not be a reality for the next few weeks or months, while I'm juggling two careers.

Remember the
proposal that I submitted? It's in the final stages but guess what, I submitted another proposal to a new potential client last week and now I'm waiting on the verdict. If this proposal is accepted it would yield 50 - 95% more than the first proposal. Go me!!

Since I hope to transition soon one thing that I need to do immediately is apply for health insurance.
This site has been helpful in providing options and quotes. If I'm not successful going at it alone, I'll try an insurance broker. My first preference is to go with a high deductible health plan so that I can continue with my health savings account. I soo don't like HMOs so I'm definitely trying to stay with a PPO. Something about getting permission to see a specialist just doesn't do it for me.

Until next time,

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Snack In The Stash

Do you remember the summer goal I started this month? Well anytime I finish a fun I feel like I'm close to starving. You should see me when I enter my house. I'm grabbing for anything that I can get my hands on, several things at once ... digging in the cereal box, unwrapping slices of cheese, reaching for this morning's left over turkey bacon, you name it. It's really a sight to see and I often end up eating crap that makes me feel like my run was sabotaged by the goulash of processed carbs and high fructose corn syrup that I devoured in 15 seconds flat. All of this brings me to my new love, Larabars.

A Larabar is my saving grace after a run. It's the "original" fruit and nut food bar and what you see is what you get! Check the ingredients list to the left (dates, almonds, pecans, ginger, cinnamon & cloves). That's it! I've tried several flavors and they are all delicious. Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on some of the other fruit or energy bars? Good golly miss molly ... the list is the length of my arm. Although a bit pricey, I'm pretty pleased. Around my way they are priced anywhere from $1.19 - $1.69 each. Regardless, I'm happy to include them in my go to stash for snacks.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Rubber Meets The Road

Sorry for the dark week but somebody has been really busy! Remember that proposal I mentioned a few weeks ago? Well it was accepted so I've been a little buried preparing for that and doing everything else that needs to get done - not to mention wrapping up a course that I must complete by 7/31.

Ideally I would like to stay at the corporate gig until 1/31/10 but that possibility is more bleak now than it was a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, I guess it just depends on whose lens you're looking through, but it is getting more and more difficult to balance the two. The demands at both places are increasing - the corp gig wants more of my time and the dream career is picking up steam as well - case in point, the accepted proposal mentioned earlier. Because of the pull in two directions, I'm barely making it and feeling like I'm not doing an excellent job in either area. I'm over worked, extremely tired and not getting much sleep. I know, cry me a river right. But hey, it's the truth.

The liberation fund is not quite where I want it to be, thanks in large to several financial interruptions that have blind-sided me. I take the good with the bad, that's life. The good - I have not touched (i.e. make any withdrawals) the liberation fund or the e-fund. The bad - I have not been able to stack my chips in the lib fund the way I want to. The savings momentum decreased significantly when the plumbing and car repairs decided to lay claims to my money.

So where does that leave me? Hmm. That's the million dollar question. I'm reassessing a few things, trying to determine a more realistic time for the great exodus. Assuming no more interruptions and short of money falling out of the sky, I probably won't have my lib fund stocked to a level that provides me the most comfort. However, I will not sacrifice the greater good for a few grand ... I'll take the leap first. After all, from where I sit, the worst that could happen is that I return to corporate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Goal - Update 1

The summer goal ticker has been updated to show my progress through yesterday. I didn't make as much progress as I wanted to because my car was out of commission for several days and the weather has been hellish hot - meaning I couldn't go to the gym AND I was not about to run outside in all of that hotness. On the one hand I'm pleased with the results thus far but, on the other hand, 87 miles remaining seems like an awful lot for a chic who doesn't like to run much. As of today, I have exactly 7 weeks and three days left, let's see if I make it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another Fabulous Interruption

I interrupt the regularly scheduled programming to bring you this message .....


What's the deal you ask? Well, my car's thermometer went all the way to high on Friday. Yes, Friday before the 4th of July holiday, leaving me stranded for the weekend nonetheless. I called Honda and was told that Tuesday would be the earliest that they could get me in due to the holiday. Okay, no big deal, I have some items in The Playbook that I need to work on anyway. No biggie, I'll just take this lemon and make some lemonade.

Fast forward 5 days later to today at approximately 11:30 am EST, I get a call from Honda and am told that my head gasket is blown. After 45 seconds of silence, I asked this question in a very soft, firm and deliberate voice "what does that mean?" The service guy replies "thedhlas eioghe ghlsgehs jetighwl atighaldt llkthaydat cozithlzight and that will be $1,278, added to the other stuff that you wanted us to take care of, your total cost is $1,752." Huh!

Okay, now that I've gotten that off of my chest, I feel so much better. Thank you for letting me vent . Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated;-).

beep translation: What in the heck is going on? I'm so daggum frustrated with all of these cotton pickin financial interruptions. One freakin' thing after another. I used the "beeps" because I thought they repped (i.e. represented) more for my true feelings;-).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Playbook

I've had a desire to change careers for several years however, it's only been the last 2 that I've actually had a plan in place - I call it The Playbook. The Playbook is a written plan to help ensure that I'm doing the proper due diligence and mitigating the risks that are scariest to me. Since developing the playbook, there have been several interruptions such as $8K in plumbing repairs! Have I gotten frustrated, absolutely! Have I wanted to just throw in the towel and stick with my corporate gig, oh yes ma'am. BUT, something inside of me just won't let me give up, even when I want to. Secondly, as long as I continue to see progress in The Playbook, I find the encouragement needed to get over those frustrating moments.

A glance at the top three plays, each of which could easily have their own separate post:

  1. Liberation fund - the lib fund is not the e-fund, it is a separate savings earmarked for the transition. The goal is to have 6 months of living expenses.
  2. Start today - I reduced my schedule at the corporate gig to part-time, which gave me more time to work on the desired career. ***There will be a separate post dedicated to this play.
  3. Health insurance - After researching the insurance options for the self-employed, I realized that it made sense for me to give up the PPO and get a HDHP so that I could begin building up an HSA. The HSA comes with me when I leave the corp gig. Based on the top 3 insurance plans that I'm looking at, I should have enough money in my HSA to cover several years of deductibles if I continue with high deductible plans ... which are generally less expensive.

Is there a goal that you're working towards? What's in your playbook?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things Are Moving Along

Hey ladies and gents, I had a meeting with a potential client two weeks ago. I'm now into the final phase, they've asked me to submit a written proposal. Unfortunately I can't go into many details but I promise I'll tell you all about it when I'm able to do so. Just know that I'm working toward my desired goal ... a career change.

I read this quote yesterday and I've been sharing it with anyone who would listen. Here goes, hopefully you find it as inspiring as I do:

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it, I say! Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.

~Pope Paul VI

Caveat - in the spirit of the quote, I don't think Pope Paul VI is suggesting that one embarks on a life of reckless abandonment and careless decision making. Quite the contrary. I believe he was encouraging us to live life on purpose. No longer passively living and merely existing. It's been said that most people's favorite day is "someday" and "one day," neither of which are real days of the week. How about changing someday to today and one day to Thursday ...

Okay, off to writing my proposal now! You guys are so supportive so I'm thanking you in advance for your encouragement.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Goal

I officially have a new short-term goal to accomplish. If you haven't noticed, there's a new ticker on my blog, 100 miles by August 31. For the record, I'm no runner so I'm not sure how realistic or unrealistic achieving this goal will be for me. Since the GA heat is out of control, I'm giving myself some grace to complete the miles on the treadmill or outside. I really want to push myself to complete this goal and since weight loss is not an end result that motivates me, I need something else. Something tangible, something desirable. Hmm. Any suggestions? Should I treat myself to a day at the spa? What about a mini shopping spree? Dang it, is this the best that I can do?! Help .....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random Updates

Aah, nothing like a little time off to recharge. Although it was only a few days, the time off was desperately needed. A friend and I met up in Philly and can I just say that Philly gets 2 thumbs up from me. The food was absolutely delicious and there was so much to see and do. I'm certain we'll visit again soon.

My budget, or shall I say non budget, is taking on a life of its own right now. I've basically blown it and honestly, I don't care. I'm thinking that I'll just consider this my little hiatus from frugality for the summer months. What does this mean? This means that once all of the necessities are taken care of (i.e. savings, bills, etc), the rest is fair be spent on whatsoever my little heart desires...budgeted or not. Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.

New years resolutions. Remember them? Well I typically don't create any because my follow through is terrible. I wouldn't call it a new years resolution but I did have a goal to read one book a month this year. How many have I read, uhm, 2 I think. I've since started 2 more and just purchased another one today that I plan on starting July 1. Hmm, I'll see how this goes. If my interest level is any indication, I will surely finish the new book.

Friends. I love them, they are great. Females who say that they don't get along with other females are missing out. My friends are awesome, just awesome. Everyone should have at least one friend, don't you think?

Gym (rolling my eyes). Okay, I must get back to it. At some point I'd gotten a little over zealous on the treadmill, which resulted in a painful toe injury ... including the removal of my entire toe nail! For several months I couldn't wear my running shoes but now I can. No more excuses, these buns of potato chips, Mexican food, Cuban bread, and hibachi fried rice must find themselves back on the treadmill and back to light weight lifting.

All of this random posting is making me feel a little A.D.Dish so I'll end here;-). How is your summer going?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Yippee!! I'm heading out of town with great expectations of getting a little r&r, rest and relaxation. I'll touch bases when I return on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Love, No Buy

Can someone please tell me what happens to your clothes from one season to the next. Maybe it's just me, but every season I ask myself the same question "where are the clothes that I wore last winter" or summer, or whatever the season is. So true to tradition, I've been looking in my closet, wondering where in the heck are my summer clothes from last year. Since I have yet to locate them, I decided to do a little shopping this past weekend.

I went to several shopping centers within a 12 mile radius - crowded, crowded, crowded. So crowded that I just couldn't move around the way I wanted to. Every other second it was "excuse me, pardon me, oh I'm sorry ... " geez, what recession? Well it just so happened that I saw several decent things and once I saw the prices on some of them, they became even cuter. Has this ever happened to you? You see something, it's decent, but then the price is right so suddenly it becomes much nicer to you?

Okay, so I'm at Banana Republic and I have an arm full of clothes. Happy as a butterfly because I actually found some clothes, I proceed to the dressing room and try on the items, they fit, maybe not perfect, but they fit. The color is not necessarily one that flatters me, but geez louise, the price is right. These pants are not very flattering on my buttocks, but do you see the price? Oh, the skirt and shirt are not really my style but I can't beat this price. Fifteen minutes later and 5 steps away from the register, I did an about face and returned every single piece of clothing back to their racks. I realized that I didn't love anything, I loved the prices.

It suddenly occurred to me that the clothes I couldn't "find" are really still in my closet. I mean I have a closet full of clothing but I'm always lamenting over what to wear because I'm not really in love with most of them. I'd venture to say that one thing I lost in my quest for a more responsible financial life is purchasing clothing that I actually want. This is why I don't "have" any clothes even though I have a closet full. I have clothes, just none that I want to wear. I have clothes that I bought because the price was right, not because I wanted them. This chapter ends here and now. Beginning immediately, if I don't love it, I won't buy it. No love, no buy.

I know it's possible to purchase fabulous clothes at fabulous prices (fabulous being relative here ... based on each individuals personal style). Honestly, I've never been the kind of shopper who stalks sales and price compares. If I like it, I buy it. Although I love clothes, I dislike shopping, very much. Maybe I have to enjoy the process a little more and take my time finding the clothes that create a win/win ... a win for my personal style and a win for my purse. A few of my bestest girlfriends (yep, I said bestest on purpose) are great shoppers, perhaps I'll get with them for a little tutorial.

Can anyone relate to this? Do you have a tendency to purchase things primarily because the price is right?