Holy moly. My new phone (the Samsung Galaxy S3 we bought in April) started fritzing out on me big time over the weekend, and Sprint sucks. And I don’t know what to say about Samsung yet. But this one crappy phone caused my Monday to stink.
The Run Around
We took my phone in to the main Sprint store/repair facility in the area (an hour drive roundtrip) on Saturday. But we waited 10 minutes to be told that we would need to wait another hour to be seen. So we made a Monday appointment at noon. Well, we arrived at 11:50am, they FINALLY saw us at 12:20pm, and then they said that it would be $75 to repair even though the phone is less than a year old. If we wanted a free repair, we would have needed to be paying for the insurance or send the phone to Samsung. Great…what a waste of time (about 2 hours total with driving). They could have told us that on Saturday…
At this point, my husband is pissed. He then goes to a repair facility in a Best Buy that is listed on the Samsung website. An hour later, he’s home again since that place doesn’t actually do repairs. So the website is wrong and that ticks us both off even more. So I lose him for most of Monday to whatever guys go to in their minds when they are too pissed to deal with the world.
It also didn’t help him to cheer up when we both decided (while we were in different rooms of the house) to call Samsung and get a repair ticket started that way. Anyway, after having to call back because they dropped my first call after getting all of my info, I finally get a repair ticket started, the mailing label I need, and I sent off my dang phone to be fixed.
Other Broken Stuff
Hubby and I are feeling much better today (I’m writing this Tuesday around lunch). We’re packing for a board gaming trip, wrapping up what we can of business deals before we have to work out of a hotel lobby, and we’re trying not to think about the things that can’t be fixed yet.
We’re having cable problems and are looking into ways to cancel cable and still watch some tv and sports (mainly trying to figure out how to watch NFL games without cable). Our icemaker in the freezer isn’t working despite it being “fixed” last Friday. The repair guy should pop up today again. And I will be waiting more than a week to get my phone back – hopefully repaired. Oh, and we have little stuff like a computer keyboard and mouse that have been acting up as well as my 8 year old laptop.
Grrr. I know everything breaking at once is normal, but I don’t have to like it.
During more annoying periods of life like this, I try to take a few minutes to breathe and think of all of the stuff that is good and stable. I went to the park yesterday afternoon after mailing off the phone and just sat there for 20 minutes.
I thought about the fact that I work for myself now, that my marriage is overall better than ever, that we finally have good friends, and that I was about to pick up my Little Bro and hang out. Life is generally good and I need to learn how to handle little stressors better. That may be a constant work in progress.
I told myself that stuff breaks – it’s the way of the world. I tried to think of ways to tell Sprint how I felt about all of our time wasted, which led me to remember a post about Republic Wireless and Ting at Mr. Money Mustache. We may be breaking our Sprint contract and switching to Ting (I have to do the math on how long it would take to make back our cancellation fee…we just started our new term in April).
Anyway, do you have a good way of dealing with crappy days like this? Do you go to a park or quiet place too? Or do you beat the crud out of a sparring dummy? What’s your coping mechanism?
I was watching “Love It or List It, Too” on HGTV (it’s less mel0dramatic than the original), and the older couple was considering downsizing. I just thought about our recent upsizing and how much I like the extra room right now, but then I put myself in older shoes.
I first imagined myself in my 40′s and 50′s with the arthritis that runs in the family starting to act up. Our home’s stairs would hopefully still be very doable for us, but over-the-counter pain relievers may start being part of my morning routine somewhere in there. I would hope Mr. BFS and I would retire within that period too (and both still be very much alive), so we will probably be traveling even more than now or finding day-time hobbies to help fill our extra hours. I hope my wrists or voice software would allow me to continue to blog or do whatever that sort of thing is by then.
Our home’s size would probably not be an issue yet at this point. If we have kids, they would hopefully be out of the house by our mid-50′s. We may update stuff by then since our tastes now will not be our tastes forever. Knowing us, we’ll probably still have a dog or two as well.
In short, unless something huge happens within the next 20-30 years, we could still be in our house.
Then I started thinking about my 70′s and above (assuming I make it that far like my older family members). My energy might be severely drained by then, walking will be a bit harder, and I better have stayed in shape somewhat the 40-50 years between now and then or our stairs will completely suck. Statistically, Mr. BFS may check out of this world before I do, so I may have some years to handle alone. Or he might.
In regards to our house, we could either downsize or start making renovations to make our two-story home more geriatric-friendly. Downsizing could mean having some extra money in the bank if we need it as long as our new place costs less than what we sell this one for, BUT we’d probably sell our rental property before we sell our current home. Renovations may include one of those motorized stair-chairs. If either one of us ends up in a wheelchair, then we’d need to move. The doorways to the bathrooms are just too narrow here. I guess that’ll motivate us to stay out of a wheelchair as long as physically possible.
How Age Makes Me Feel
Thinking of getting older makes me smile and cringe at the same time. I want to see what happens between now and then, but I don’t look forward to my body deteriorating. I really hope my mind doesn’t wear down as quickly too, but I know I won’t be as fast as I would hope. I see it with pretty much everyone I talk to that is over 75 years old…they’re mind is churning out the thoughts most of the time, but their mouths take longer forming the words. Or they lose the thought before they complete it. I don’t look forward to that part.
But I plan on embracing the old stereotype as I fall into it. I would love to be that old, crazy woman next door that makes others laugh and appreciate their youth while they have it. I will totally use my advanced age to say whatever I want…it could be fun. Believe it or not, I actually filter myself a bit right now. It’s overrated.
Do you ever think of yourself down the road? What does that picture look like for you?
It’s been a little while since I updated all of you on being in the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program. So far, so good!
- I submitted a volunteer application in mid-July 2013.
- Over the next 2-3 weeks, I sent in all of the requested paperwork, five of my friends and blogging buddies turned in their reference forms, and I took a 1-2 hour online class and quiz.
- In August 2013, I was interviewed and was officially approved.
- I was officially matched in very late September 2013.
- My Little Bro and I started hanging out weekly in October 2013.
Our Activities So Far
For the first 3 weeks or so, my Little Bro was super quiet. He smiled and would say a sentence here and there, but that was about it. All I knew for sure through most of October was that we both like food, and I was told to keep our time together relatively cheap.
After being matched for 3 months, he can come over to my place, so we can start cooking. Until then though, I’ve really made use of email signups at restaurants in our area so that he can eat cheap or free. It’s pretty easy since he’s 10 years old right now, which is young enough for 99% of children’s menus.
So eating dinner and doing something once a week has become our routine. We keep trying places and specific foods that he hasn’t had yet. No, nothing exotic, but his family doesn’t eat out a lot.
For food, we’ve had:
- Chili’s – He liked it a lot, but likes the buffets below better. Cost $6 for him.
- Hamburgers and Pomegranate shakes – It wasn’t amazing food, but it fit our plans that day and cost about $5 to feed him.
- Cici’s pizza buffet – He loved it and he ate for free thanks to their email signup special.
- Potato Patch (country cooking and they throw the yeast rolls at you to catch) – This was about $10 for him, so it’ll be reserved for special occasions.
- Hartz Chicken buffet – He really loved this place, and it only cost about $6 for him.
Even though he really likes the food part of the evening, he says he’s had fun at all of our activities too:
- Disc golf – free
- Attended a middle school football game – his ticket was $1
- Saw “Turbo” at the discount movie theater nearby – $1.50 per person
- Billiards twice since they were rainy days – cost $6-7 per day total
Overall, our cheapest day has been about $15 total. Our most expensive was around $32 thanks to Potato Patch having a very expensive kid’s menu. I was aiming to spend $20 or less every week, and we are on track there. Money-wise, this is a very affordable thing that we could make even cheaper if we have to. I just enjoy watching this kid eat at places he hasn’t been before. He really just has all of those great kid-like faces when he really likes something. It’s fun.
The Emotional Side
This has been eye-opening. My Little Bro started opening up a few weeks ago and it was awesome to see! It’s been about 6 weeks and his parents are giving me positive feedback. He apparently has started liking school more and wants to sign up for football. That’s the first official team sport he’s been interested in even though he loves sports. Cool beans!
On a different note, our different income classes don’t seem to matter very often. BUT, some things he says makes it obvious that he sees a different between his family and the “rich” people. I think he may see me differently if we hang out at my house too early. We might wait longer than the suggested 3 months. I don’t want him to get jealous or self-conscious with me. Or think of me as his own personal Santa Claus, which the program wants us to avoid no matter what.
Overall, my Little Bro is a sweet little dude who opens doors for anybody and he’s a gentleman. His stories also seem to highlight the fact that he really dislikes bullies and he does stick up for the dudes smaller than him. And his mom says he loves talking about me to his brothers and sister after our outings. I take all of that as very good signs that we can stay matched for the long run.
Have you ever participated in BBBS or something similar? What have been your experiences?
The following is a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, where he helps out with launching something now so that you don’t waste any time in your 20s.
I’ve seen all kinds of shows on TV about strange addictions and odd issues. I myself have gone through phases where I spent my money pretty foolishly. Despite being a personal finance blogger for five years, I can confirm that I haven’t always made the best decisions with my money.
I wanted to thank Crystal for allowing me to guest post again. I’m usually pretty serious or trying to be. Today I wanted to have some fun and write about my financial addictions/mistakes over the years.
Where do I regret spending money over the years? What have been some of my problem areas when it comes to blowing my money?
Am I the only one here that has had a strange cologne addiction? I’ve gone through phases where I just had to have every popular scent. I just couldn’t resist. I would research different types of cologne and I learned all about how cologne works. I always had to have the newest cologne. I even went as far as to not wear the same scent two days in a row.
How did I improve this? I just stopped buying cologne and decided to stick with what I have. If I run out, I look for a sale before I buy another bottle. I still love to smell good though.
Useless Nights Out
I’ve had way too many pointless nights out where I should have stayed home. I would go out just for the sake of not staying home.
I’m all for fun and enjoy myself with friends. There’s just no sense in getting wasted for no reason just because it’s Saturday. You don’t have to turn any little thing into an excuse for going out.
How did I improve here? I cut back on drinking, go out less often, and I pick-and-choose my nights. This is a huge savings in your 20s. If you can go out without drinking or cut back on your nights out, your wallet will thank you.
I went through a phase in between my college partying and working like mad, where I became a voracious reader. The only problem was that instead of hitting up the library or exchanging books with friends, I just bought random books from Chapters. I mean totally random. I would just look for books that seemed interesting or I would ask the staff for recommendations. The staff always had some new book to recommend to me.
I have a whole stack of unfinished books in my room. Did I really think that I was going to read, “The Black Swan?” In the ultimate irony, I still haven’t read, “Getting Things Done.” I also haven’t opened that book on social media marketing. I usually find a book that I really enjoy (“Linchpin” by Seth Godin), read it slowly, take notes, and then read it again. Some books I never plan on even opening.
How did I change here? I luckily now get many books for free since publishers will contact me or I can contact them about book reviews. I also don’t let myself buy a new book until I’ve finished the current one.
Of course I want to get lean in 21 days! Sign me up for five cases of that product.
I’m a very impatient man. I don’t like to wait. So when I started working out, I had to have every workout supplement on the market. I didn’t know what I was buying nor did I care. I fell for the marketing. I knew that the claims were too good to be true, but I didn’t want to believe it.
What changed for me? I realized that you could never supplement training hard and eating well. Just like with personal finance, the fundamentals are key in the fitness industry. I also bought some books on the topic (see above) that opened my eyes on the issues with the supplement industry. Sadly, I never got lean in 21 days, but my wallet sure did lose a few pounds.
That’s how I spent money foolishly over the years. When I started writing about personal finance I was quick to brag about my accomplishments. I’ve come to believe that if you want to take pride in your achievements, you also need to hold yourself accountable for your mistakes.
Now it’s your turn to join in on the fun and share some of the ways you regret spending your hard-earned money. This is a judgment-free zone.
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” — Ayn Rand
Quite a few of you email me and ask how I successfully keep up with it all. I’m sorry, I don’t have magical time management skills. I just get done what I can from about 10am through 2am, then I shake my head at what’s left before I have to go to sleep. Sometimes I wake up a little earlier or go to bed a little later if I just can’t stop.
Weeks Like This…
Then there are weeks like this one. There are just not enough hours in the day to keep up with everything, so I simply handle the priorities and know that I will be playing catch up next week. Here is what this week has on it’s “To Do” list in no particular order:
- Business emails – about 100-150 emails a day just at my BFS email that need to be read and I usually end up sending about 100 a day too – Check so far
- Make sure all of the ad campaigns that I am handling are kept up to date – notify advertiser of URL’s and bump emails to bloggers. – Check so far
- Posts for Monday-Friday on BFS - Still need Thursday and Friday
- Make sure posts are scheduled at co-owned sites, especially Married with Debt since I’m its blog manager. – Check
- Newsletter for Friday – Usually done Thursday night
- Roundup for Saturday – Usually done Friday night and Saturday morning
- Commenting for Hire – Will work on this tonight and tomorrow
- Commenting for Myself – Might get done…
- At least one guest post for others – Check
- Ghost writing for hire – Check on most of it…just had a new one come in…
- Ask advertisers about October renewals – Check
- Update bloggers with advertisers’ answers or let them know to break links if I don’t get replies – Half-Check…still need to finish the month up.
- Install Yoast on blog.
- Run a backlink checker so I can clean up BFS a bit.
- Facilitate an online class Monday and Tuesday night from 5pm to 9pm – Check
- Clean up after the masquerade ball. – Check
- Have a Dr. Who night with our friend, B – Check
- Take out my Little Bro this evening from 4pm to 7pm
- Mastermind group this evening from 8:30pm-9:30pm
- Get pilot light checked on water heater – Check
- Get water heater replaced (small leak meant they are replacing it completely while it was under the 1 year warranty) - Check
- Confirm changes to our health insurance for 2014
- Look into our life insurance policies – They were life insurance with no medical exam that we plan on keeping, but they were 10 year terms. I want to know what we do if we want to make changes.
- Buy Halloween candy – Check
- Hand out Halloween candy with Dee on Thursday.
- Take down Halloween decorations.
- Finish reading “Ender’s Game” again by reading before bed since it had be more than a decade since I read it before, and I wanted to remember it before seeing the movie. – Check
- Google Orson Scott Card to find out his views on homosexuals…was surprised to have been told that he’s a homophobe. Might change my mind about seeing the movie. I generally don’t like to support anybody with public prejudices.
- Update our budget.
- Move money around as necessary for savings goals and upcoming bills.
- Play Plants vs Zombies 2 on the Android for at least 15 minutes – Check (the fun things are the easiest to check off, lol)
- Pay or plan to pay the property tax bills that are coming in for both houses. Then write a post about them when I’m done…it’s crazy…
- Dinner with friends Friday night. Hopefully some wine or hard apple cider will be involved.
- Work catch-up on Saturday.
- Board gaming on Saturday with friends.
- Make new “To Do” list for next week.
I have a week that looks like this 1-2 times a month. I use the remaining 2-3 weeks to play catch up. Honestly, there are a billion tricks to help save you time. I go for the straight-forward method – just get it all done. Finish one thing, move on to the next. Even when I have down time to watch tv, I generally do something else too like the dishes or working online.
Good luck to us all, lol. Do you have a better method for time management?
Remember all of my post’s about my home owner’s association earlier this year? Well, they did.
My husband and I moved into our new neighborhood in October 2012. We knew about the HOA, several people suggested we find a place elsewhere, but I thought we could fit in really well anyway. By February 2013, I was completely frazzled by about 6-7 letters about deed restriction violations that just didn’t make sense to me. But I started attending the meetings, tried getting to know all of the board members through those evenings, and I thought it was all getting better. No letters, so I figured that meant that the board and I were getting to know each other finally.
I also thought that since I was getting more involved with the meetings and even offering to be a one-woman welcoming committee to new arrivers, I could probably take a spot on the board this month since 3 positions were opening up.
Elections Turned Personal
The elections were October 24. I was out of town for blogging business from October 15-20 and was sick October 21. There were 3 open positions on the board and 3 official people running for them, including me. I figured I could concentrate on getting better and then make it to the Thursday meeting.
But I answered the door to a concerned neighbor on Tuesday morning. They let me know that one of the guys running had started going around the neighborhood asking for people to sign over their proxy votes so that they could elect a write-in candidate – a friend of the two guys already on the ballot. He was pointing out some of my blog posts titles and explaining how I would be bad for the neighborhood. Great.
So I had a little breakdown, printed up some fliers, and started going door to door Tuesday and Wednesday night. I knocked on more than 100 doors, spoke to dozens of people, and thought I was making a difference. I learned a lot at least and met a few super nice people that I hope to get to know better.
But the last minute push (and 5-6 hours of walking) didn’t get rid of the proxy ballots. I showed up to the Thursday meeting, got drilled in front of everybody about my HOA-hating posts, more ballots were collected, and the vote came in for the two other guys and the write-in candidate. At that point, I wasn’t surprised.
Hind-Sight is 20/20
Being put on the spot in a negative way in front of others simply sucks. But I handled it the best I could, and I pointed out that all of my venting was for justifiable reasons and happened before I started attending the bi-monthly meetings in February. The super stressed ones were before I met the board members. I said out loud that I was surprised anyone would bring it up since I thought we had moved on. That’s the best I could say to sum up all of my feelings at that moment in time.
With some sleep, I figured out what I wanted to say. I wanted to say that I have 12+ years in customer service, a BBA with honors, and the ability to understand the budget. I would make an excellent HOA treasurer. I wanted to say that I disliked how I was treated and was running for the HOA board to help ensure that others weren’t as sad after moving in as I was, and that disliking an HOA is not disliking a neighborhood. I wanted to ask why I was being attacked just because I publicly state how I feel while everyone else hides it. Wouldn’t that make me a great person to work with? Easy to read, straight-forward, and detail-oriented?
But you always know what to say later. Plus, it wouldn’t have actually mattered anyway since the stack of proxy and absentee ballots far outweighed the 30 people who voted in the meeting. Overall, I lost last week while I was out of town.
Knowledge for the Future
Going forward, I know that at least 3 of the 5 board members generally don’t like me. They may have even deeper feelings about their distaste, but I’ll just sum it up with “don’t like”. Well, I hope that changes. It would make life easier on all of us since we live on the same street, lol. I actually try to avoid drama on a general basis, so I hope there’s none here regularly now.
I also know that you can’t make people accept you. Based on the feedback about my blog from the other home owner’s not on the board, I’ve got at least 3 new readers (welcome!) and 1 lady that had no problem publicly denouncing it and me. But at least she read most of a post and not just the title. The lines she read out loud in the meeting were actually from this post (http://www.budgetinginthefunstuff.com/home-owners-association-bullies/):
I love my house. I really, really do. I also knew that we were moving into a neighborhood with a home owner’s association, but I didn’t realize how annoying that really can be! Ugh. And I feel silly because I was warned. My parents have been in a neighborhood with a crazy HOA for years and years. All of my friends and family were jealous of our last little subdivision since it was HOA-free. But none of that prepares you for receiving stupid little letters and wanting to poke someone in the eye…
I think that post was well-written and stated exactly what I meant. I love my neighborhood, I was warned about HOA’s, and now I have to deal with one that actually doesn’t like me. And it’s not like I’m being paranoid – one or two of the members actively didn’t like me enough to go door-to-door telling people not to vote for me. For an unpaid, volunteer position!
I don’t know why that woman in the front row was offended by the post. I do love this neighborhood and I was willing to volunteer my time on the board. I didn’t see her up there or on the ballot. It’s not like it’s a paid position and I was trying to sneak in and steal a salary from someone. I am very proud of this blog and I like my neighborhood, so I was trying to make a difference instead of just whining.
Meh. It’s all good. I’ll keep attending the meetings since they do keep me up to date on the neighborhood. I’ll keep reaching out to the friendly neighbors that wave back. And I’ll accept for now that I am not wanted on the board. My 449 neighboring households either don’t know me well enough to know what they are missing, or they sincerely want nothing to do with a balancing voice on this HOA. Either way, I can’t change anybody’s mind right this second, so I will just keep on keeping on for me.
Have you ever been in a similarly charged situation? Think I’m handling this correctly? How would you proceed from here?
I have recently taken a long, deep look into my life and I have started to figure out what I want and what is most important. I keep having “ah hah!” moments as I begin to make sense of health, money, love, and my own mindsets. I blog about these insights and more at Living Life Happier.
For years I didn’t want anything to do with minimalism. I love my stuff and I had no intention of getting rid of it all. On the other hand, personal finance was infinitely interesting to me. I love numbers and I knew I could be doing better with my own savings. So I started down the rabbit hole of personal finance books and web sites, learning all I could.
Intro to Minimalism
I’m not sure exactly when or where I began reading about minimalism, but I’m pretty sure it was because of a link on a personal finance site. I came across a web site that emphasized the idea of getting rid of the extra stuff, but not getting rid of everything. On this and other sites, the idea was that minimalism was about having the least amount with which I would be happy.
So if that birthday gift from my mom makes me happy every time I see it, and I use it often, then I should keep it. If it’s just collecting dust, not being used or noticed, then it should go. This actually made sense to me.
It’s not surprising that I found minimalism through personal finance because they’re really so connected. Buying unnecessary stuff is not good for the budget, and saving money often involves buying less unneeded stuff. See how that works? It seems obvious to me now, when it’s written out like this, but for a long time I didn’t see it, even though I’d unknowingly begun to do it.
Practicing minimalism began when several friends, separately and over many months, commented on how small and cluttered my apartment felt. While my place isn’t huge, it certainly isn’t too small for one person! This was the wake-up call I needed.
After yet another person made this comment, I slowly began to get rid of stuff I didn’t want, clutter, and unused items. After a while, I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything unless I really needed it and would use it. Shortly after this, I decided to start saving more money.
Since I had already cut out entertainment shopping (shopping out of boredom, as a way to spend time with friends, or just to see if there was something interesting I might want to buy) it was so much easier to save. I never bought expensive items, but $10 here and $15 there can still add up. Now, between trying to keep the clutter out and trying to keep the dollars in, I found I was doing very little shopping. In fact, just about the only shopping I did was for groceries, toilet paper, and similar perishables.
Now here’s the part that surprised me: I didn’t miss it! I really thought I’d miss shopping but I now see what a time- and money-waster it was. I was buying things that I didn’t truly need. In fact, I realized that I dislike shopping.
I’ll admit, every now and then I’m tempted to buy something I don’t need. I’ll be at the pharmacy or in a box store buying paper towels, and something will catch my eye and I’ll think that I want it. Then I’ll remember that I really don’t need, I wouldn’t use it, and I’d rather have a less cluttered home and save the money for early retirement.
Suddenly it’s so easy to walk away from that unnecessary thing. Instead I put the money towards my real goals and then I come home to an apartment that finally doesn’t feel small and cluttered but homey and calm. It took me many years to really understand minimalism and personal finance, and I’m still figuring out how best to applying them both, but it has been worth it. They work so well together and have made my life so much better.