I miss CVS

Yes, only months after beginning to do the Drugstore Game, I had to move away from my two nearby CVS stores. Where I live now has an abundance of Walgreens locations, but the nearest CVS is in the next state–about a 20 minute drive from my current location. Add that to the fact that I don’t do most of the shopping for the household, and that means no CVS for me.

I did hear rumors on the local news that CVS had purchased some land near where I live, but I haven’t heard anything since June. I simply have to stick to freebie shopping and Walgreens EasySaver rebates until my circumstances change.

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The importance of organization: Clutter is overwhelming!

I’ve been trying to not only save money but also simplify my life. To do that, I’ve been going through the clutter and donating, selling on eBay, and gifting some of the stuff that I’ve accumulated. What’s scary is that I don’t have that much stuff, I just hold on to it past the point of its usefulness. My main goals are attacking the clothing and paper piles. I think organizing my papers is going to take the longest.

While I do have a filing cabinet, I have been lax in setting up a filing system and maintaining the few folders I do have. Seeing stacks of papers is starting to stress me out. Now, I’m not a neat freak at all. I don’t spazz if someone forgets to put something away right this very minute. But if I have an ongoing project (paper stacks) that sits too long, it begins to bother me.

The clothing piles are also building up. I’ve been a bit more attentive to those, but I still have a few piles: to be laundered, to be donated, to pack away for the season, to mend, and to refashion. I did drop off a bag of stuff at Goodwill a few days ago, and it felt so nice to have that little bit of space back. I just need to hold on to that feeling as motivation!

Feeding my monsters

Since I’ve now got a paycheck that isn’t immediately eaten up by rent, I am doing the smart thing and divvying it up as soon as I get it.  I made a pretty little pie chart to reflect my current divisions.

These percentages are subject to change; for one, after my emergency fund is fully funded, I’m going to increase my retirement percentage.

I’m also excited (in a weird way) to be beginning to feed the debt monsters.  I have student loans that just sit there, increasing from interest.  I’m not worried about all of them, because the interest rates are very low and/or they’re subsidized, but the ones with the scarier rates need to be fed some snowflakes.

Grad school money mutterings: textbooks and tuition

It’s that dreaded time of year that happens once a semester. The time that messes with my budget and cash flow. It’s time to pay the tuition bill. And time to buy textbooks.

I hate the tuition bill because I can’t pay it without taking on more debt. I know it’s considered by some to be “good debt”, but to those paying it off, there’s little about it that could be called “good”.

And those textbooks. Pay hundreds of dollars each semester, and maybe get 50 bucks a book back if you’re lucky. That’s only if they aren’t changing editions. And if you don’t need to keep the book for some reason. Who wouldn’t love making an investment like that!?

I may appear to be full of complaints, but as I was preparing for the dreaded tasks, I did realize how lucky I am. Yes, I will be further in debt. Yes, I feel that creating a new edition of a textbook by changing the ordering of the problems around is robbery. (I wonder how much stock Sallie Mae has invested in the textbook publishers?) But the most important thing to remember is what a blessing it is to be able to attend this school and further my education.

Then again, maybe I should quit my current career track and join the folks in the textbook industry.

My Trip to Wal-Mart (Or, How Not to go Freebie Shopping)

My poor bf. I’m convinced that he thinks I’m a bit mad. Not overall, just when it comes to my coupons, freebies, and scoring deals at Walgreens. I don’t think he thinks I’m crazy for wanting to save money or for getting so much free stuff. (The 5 free deodorants I’ve gotten him should have helped with that!) It’s just that I’ve invited him on a freebie-shopping trip twice now, and both times…it’s been a couponer’s nightmare.

The first time was a trip to Walgreens to do a PG Register Rewards deal that totally flopped at the checkout. (My fault. Wasn’t watching the product size.) I’m not going to relive that one just now; the latest one is more entertaining.

So I come back from retirement from couponing briefly because I see how many great Walmart deals are going on, and how many of them use internet coupons (which I can easily get), and how many of the deals get you free stuff. Ok, I decide, I’ll do these deals. Well, my dear bf offers to go with me, so one evening we go to our local Walmart. I’m not sure at what point he regretted going with me.

  • Problem #1: The Walmarts around here are not Super Walmarts, like I am used to. So, some of the grocery items on my list are crossed off.
  • Problem #2: Inventory is being taken, and because of this, many aisles are blocked off. The store has literally become a maze. You actually had to figure out how to progress through the store.
  • Problem #3: When we get to the checkout, I face coupon issues. The checkout lady was really nice, but she apparently didn’t have a lot of experience with coupons (or maybe it was just the printouts), and so she took a looooong time. Granted, I had a coupon for everything but one item…but the line behind me was growing…and suddenly…
  • Problem #4: The lights went out. Seriously. I briefly thought I’d overloaded their system w/all my coupons and sent it into automatic shutdown or something. She’s getting too much free stuff! Abort! Abort! Shut all systems down, now! Employees with flashlights appear and tell the checkers they have 30 minutes to finish checking out the people in line, and others begin leading stray customers to the front of the store. My nice checkout lady finishes checking my coupons, by the light of my cell phone. Bless her heart.

FINALLY, I was able to escape the nightmare. My patient but embarrassed bf jokes about me overloading them and making the electricity go off. He has seen two bad deal-hunting trips like this, so I don’t think he’s going to be joining me on the next one. 🙂

This post was inspired by Bargain Briana’s recent nightmarish trip to Walmart.

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Short-Term Goals: Paycheck Management Edition

Since I finished my latest set of short-term goals, I decided to get right back up on the organization horse and make a new list. It was so refreshing knowing I’ve actually taken steps to organize my finances. Although the first list took me a while, I know that having a list helped. The list kept me from forgetting what goals I wanted to complete. Crossing each item off was truly a motivation to keep going. Progress is especially sweet when it’s measurable. 🙂

  • Decide how to divide each paycheck before bills (percentages) Done!
  • Distribute my July paychecks accordingly
  • Update my starter budget
  • Determine how much leftover money I have per paycheck (approximate)

As before, I will cross off my goals as they are completed. Maybe someday, I’ll get around to defining and posting some long-term goals.

Update: Short-term goals

As I was moving towards a focus on PF (both personally and as a topic on this blog), I made a list of some of my short-term goals. Then, a month later, I updated the list. Although I have been working towards completing each of these goals, I’ve neglected the list itself for a few months. I’m happy to show off my progress.

Short-term goals

Close one checking account (from previous school, unused)

Invest the money from that account Invested for the first time

Do FAFSA

Post about ING (link)

Organize statements Well, they’re not perfectly organized the way I want them, but it’s an improvement.

Looks like that list is finished! Wow, what a great feeling! Of course, there’s more I want to do to get organized, especially now that I have a paycheck coming in. I’ve been tinkering with MS Money, and it’s mostly set up. My budget needs some tweaking yet.