Lesson learned: Procrastination = Expensive!

I made a disastrous mistake.  My car’s headlight had burned out.  I was going to ask a friend of mine to change it for me after finding out the price (mostly labor!) at my usual shop.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to contact this friend often because he’s busy.  I should have just gotten the thing fixed, because my attempt to be frugal has bitten me in the checkbook.

headlight

I got a ticket for having one headlight.  The ticket costs only $10 less than the cost of the replacement quoted by my shop.  Plus, I still have to pay to get it fixed.  I’ve almost doubled my cost!  AAARRRGH!!

The only good (sort of) thing to come out of this is that the officer informed me (and didn’t write me a second ticket for it) that my license plate bulb isn’t illuminating from 100 feet away.  Though this is barely good news, since I now have to pay for that too.  Moral of the story is, I should have gotten the light replaced asap through one method or another.

Procrastination really is frugality’s enemy.

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Boing…

Nooo!!  After digging my claws in to get hold of my finances, I have screwed up.

Yesterday, I got sick and went to the doctor.  I paid for my copay and then went to pick up my medication.  I had to wait for the medication, so I went across the street to get some food (since I was going to be on a restricted diet for a little while).  I went back for my medication.   Since I started using a register to keep track of my check card purchases, I have been keeping up with that thing daily.

I’ve been low on funds in my accounts lately, but I knew that I had just returned a pair of shoes and would be getting my paycheck through direct deposit tomorrow.  Therefore, by checking online and taking note of my balance in my register, I figured I was covered for the medical and food costs.

emptyThe $165 bank fee on my account this morning proved I was very wrong.  At first, I didn’t understand what happened.  After a call to the bank and some careful examination of my online bank register, I figured out my mistake.  In a nutshell, money going into my account (paycheck and shoe return) takes longer than I assumed.  Money going out of my account (despite it too being listed as pending) is deducted instantly.  Unfair?  I think so, but now that I know the rules, I won’t be making this expensive mistake again.  I guess that’s why the fees are so high.

That semiannual post about textbooks

Yes, it’s that time again.  Time for all college students to complain about how much textbooks cost.  (I seem to be making a habit of that on this blog!)  This year, I calculated that if I bought all my books at the campus bookstore, I’d be spending about $850!  For me, that’s one of the highest amounts for textbooks out of my entire college career!

Because of this, throughout all of grad school (and I think part of undergrad), I have purchased my books online.  This saves hundreds of dollars, even after shipping!  What I do is buy my textbooks online through a store’s website, first going through BigCrumbs or some other rewards/cashback site.  I highly recommend BigCrumbs, as I have gotten money back on my purchases before.  (They pay through PayPal.)  After this semester’s purchases, I will probably get about $30 back!

Anyways, I have included my referral link above, in case anyone wants to try BigCrumbs.  You can shop Half.com (my favorite site for buying AND selling textbooks), Books a Million, A1 Books, and Barnes & Noble through them!  I can personally vouch that this method will save significantly more than buying through the campus bookstore.  Good luck price-hunting!

Student loan frustrations!

My student loans still have not been disbursed.  That doesn’t mean that my tuition isn’t due!  To delay having to pay tuition until I get my loans, I signed up for the payment plan, a way to pay in monthly installments with no interest charge.  (On the other hand, if you pay your tuition late and haven’t signed up for the payment plan, you are charged a percentage in late fees.)

Well, this seemed like a brilliant idea in August.  The August due date came and went, and I knew the loans would be coming “some time in September”–the words of someone who works in our financial aid department.  I assumed my loans would be disbursed by the September due date or soon after.  However, when I was checking my balance online one day, I noticed that my balance was significantly in the hole.  That is, I had bounced my checking account by several thousand dollars.

Nicht gut! I realized that I had signed up for direct debit when I signed up for the tuition payment plan.  Whoops!  I was able to remedy the situation that day, but the incident definitely made me anxious for my loans to arrive!!  I am calling financial aid on MONDAY!  🙂

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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