6.30.2012

Toilet Paper Showdown

Hi everyone! It's finally the weekend, woohoo! Hope you are all enjoying your weekend so far. Today I have the awesome Travis serving up a really cool guest post on....toilet paper. How does this relate to finance you ask? Toilet paper isn't free, someone has to pay for it. Are you getting the most bang for your buck with the toilet paper you're buying? Let's see what Travis comes up with in this toilet paper showdown...


Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog in the CareOne Community, as well as a member of TeamEOD.  He shares his family's experiences, struggles and successes as they fight their way out of debt. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family.


I recently read an article that compared different toilet paper brands in an attempt to find the best value taking into account both price and quality.  The research concluded by naming White Cloud as the best value for the consumer's money.

I love finding cheaper products of similar quality, but I don't take anyone's word for it.  I decided to do my own research comparing my regular brand to White Cloud in a head to head, toilet paper battle royale.  I picked up a package of White Cloud and put a roll on the counter of my most used bathroom in order to compare and contrast with my usual brand during the next few visits.

In the near corner we have our champion Charmin Extra Strong toilet paper.....and in the far corner we have our challenger, White Cloud.






Lets get ready to rumble!

Round One:  Softness and Texture – The Dab Test

Be honest, men, we all know that in spite our best efforts, there's always that last drop of moisture that usually ends up in our shorts.  I like to make sure everything is nice and dry before concluding business.  You can easily understand why I believe softness and texture are very important qualities in toilet paper.

Although Charmin has a much less prominent decorative design engraved into the actual product, there wasn't a noticeable difference between the products.

Winner:  Draw

Round Two: Value – The Stats

Product: Charmin Extra Strong
2 Ply
176 sheets per roll
Price of 12 double rolls:  $6.97

Product: White Cloud
3 Ply
200 Sheets per roll
Price of 12 double rolls: $5.97

With thicker sheets, more sheets per roll, and still being $1 cheaper for a package of 12 double rolls, White Cloud is the clear winner of this round.

Winner: White Cloud

Round Three: Strength – Wipe Out

When we absolutely need quality toilet paper, strength is king.  If your fingers break through the product during use, let's face it, you're going to be in deep......let's just say it'll be very unfortunate.

White Cloud is 3 ply (compared to Charmin's 2 ply) and I could tell the difference.  It felt thicker, and stronger.

Winner: White Cloud

Overall Decision:  White Cloud

It's simply a better product, you get more product per package, AND it costs less.

Whether you prefer the “over the top” or the “underneath” role configuration, I think you'll agree with my conclusion. I will be switching brands immediately.

In my opinion, not switching to White Cloud would simply be flushing my money away.



Do you buy toilet paper for the quality or do you just buy whichever toilet paper is the cheapest?

6.29.2012

Planning A (Frugal!) Proposal

Happy Friday! I have another guest post for you today from my blogging buddy Bobbie (alliteration anyone?) - enjoy!


About Bobbie: I'm a 27 year old who is currently trying to make memories on a budget and get out of debt.  I blog at Bog of Debt - hope to see you there!


Hello From Shopping to Saving readers! I told Erika that I would do a guest post for her and immediately was thinking “oh my god, what will I write about?”  Then remembered that when I got engaged she asked for the story behind it and voila! An idea was born! Honestly, the guy and I talked about getting married this summer.  Yup, this summer on August 4th and we had talked about this in February? Or something like that.  There was no ring, no “true” proposal but as his family will be up here this summer, we thought that it would be a good idea.  And as I was never one to dream about my “dream” wedding, this sounded pretty good to me.


A chapel was found and a budget was built.


But then my guy started to hesitate—he has certain things that he felt needed to be done before we could get married.  One was he wanted to buy the engagement ring and actually propose to me.   The second was that he wanted to go on a honeymoon and he wanted it to be on the beach.  


So we sat down once more and planned a new budget.  


I won’t lie—I knew that he was going to propose to me before the end of July.  I am not a great person to surprise because it does the whole “not in control” thing.  And well, I get horribly embarrassed and prefer private things.  I also really didn’t want an overpriced ring.  As we are getting out of debt, I felt that something that was worth 2 paychecks would make me feel horrible!  And obviously we couldn’t just take the money right away. 


Instead, we agreed upon a sum that he would keep from his paycheck in order to surprise me with a ring.  (And the date that it would be done by.)



Not the real ring :P via


Then came the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  He had me come with him to the store in order to pick out a ring that we both would agree on.  I had mentioned a fake diamond and he said he would consider it but would rather have a real one.   And then we both found the perfect one.  I tried it on to make sure that it would fit (it did!) and that was it.  Or so I thought—I really thought he was going to make me wait until July.  And as I’m not the most patient person that was such a horrible thing to even think of.


Later that night we went for a quick walk in the park and he stopped me to propose! It was really magical and perfect.  Honestly, it was great—no one was around and I didn’t have to wait! It was done by the fountain and the sun was just setting.  So yes, in my mind it was perfect.  Everyone gets surprised when I say that I knew it was coming and what the ring would look like but to me, it just helped keep the excitement mounting.  


Do I have an idea of the price? Well, yeah but I don’t know exactly what it was.  What I do know is that it fits with my more thrifty soul and it is an absolute beautiful ring.


Editor's note: Such a cute (and practical) story! This is definitely something I've been thinking about since the BF and I share everything. He has mentioned to me before that since I'm so picky, I would probably want to choose out my engagement ring..but at the same time we need to budget for it. BUT at the same time, I want that element of surprise. How does everyone figure this stuff out?


Have you ever planned the purchase of your engagement ring? Did you know the details of your proposal? If you're a guy, will you plan the proposal and engagement ring on your own or with your significant other?

6.27.2012

10 Things Every New Homeowner Should Do

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope you are all enjoying your week so far. I'm in Columbus, OH right now enjoying some intense volleyball competition between 12-year-old gals, so I have a guest post from Country Girl for you. Enjoy! :)

Country Girl is a 27 year old with a deep connection to her rural roots. She works full time as an environmental planner, works on the family farm and blogs on occasion too. When she’s not cutting wood or going for crop tours, she muses about personal finance, being a new homeowner and living out beyond where the blacktop ends on her blog. You can get a hold of Country Girl at centsofacountrygirl@gmail.
com.

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10 Things Every New Homeowner Should Do

There are about a million lists out there in the world wide web that outline what a prospective home owner should keep in mind when buying a house. Usually these lists advise things like: save 5% of the price for closing costs, get property insurance, don’t overspend on furniture, and on and on. All pretty solid advice, but what about once the deal is done and you’re basking in the glow of new homeownership, then what?

I’m getting close to the first anniversary of my first home purchase (I’m going to celebrate by painting the deck – happy anniversary, house!), so I thought I’d offer some tips for new homeowners, based on my experience as a new homeowner. Here are 10 things you might want to consider doing once you get possession of your new abode:
  • Change the locks. This was one of the first things I did when I moved into my house. Remember in health class when a teacher told you that you’re sleeping with everyone else your partner have ever slept with – buying a house is bit like that. You have no idea who might have a key to your house. I know the guy I bought my house from has a couple of (crazy) exes, so changing the locks was a high priority after I moved in.
  • Change ALL the batteries in the smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Trust me, nothing will make you jump out of better faster than a carbon dioxide detector beeping about low battery at 2 AM. Better yet, buy all new detectors.
  • Learn and label your fuse/panel box. Make sure you know how to change a fuse and have a few extras on hand for when you plug in the blender while using the microwave and blow the fuse. Labeling the fuses/breakers is important as a new homeowner too. Maybe you’ll get lucky and they will all be clearly labeled or maybe your panel box will be like mine: haphazardly labeled in what appears to be Sanskrit.
  • Take pictures of the flowerbeds or gardens (if it’s summer/fall). A picture reference will come in handy in the spring when your looking at a flower bed and trying to figure out what’s a weed and what’s supposed to be there.
  • If appliances came with your house, find and read the manuals. I gathered up all the manuals left behind for my appliances and found any missing ones on the internet (thanks google!), put them in a binder and flipped through them. When my water softener started acting up, I knew exactly where the manual was and was able to get the problem solved without much trouble. If your manuals don't have the answers, a website like www.partselect.com can help you figure out what's wrong, get you a deal on just the part you need, and show you how to fix it yourself.
  • Stock up on flashlights and put one in every room. Nothing is worse than trying to fumble your way around an unfamiliar house, in the dark, in search of a flashlight.
  • Map where your septic tank is (or, sewer/water lines). The septic tank at my house was pumped and inspector as part of the conditions of the sale. I measured and drew a diagram to show exactly where the septic tank is relative to the house. Chances are I won’t be pumping the system for another three-four years so it’s important to have a good record of where the system is so I don’t have to spend an afternoon trying to find the tank when it’s time for a pumping.
  • Locate the edges of your property. If you’re lucky, you might find survey stakes, but otherwise, you may have to put your own in based on a legal survey (which you hopefully got done as part of the sale). It’s important to do this before you start knocking down trees or put a shed up in the back corner of your lot.
  • If you got a washing machine with your house, clean the washing machine before putting any of your clothes in it. My first load of wash ended up with rust stains because I neglected to clean the washing machine. Turns out the machine had been sitting a while and had a bit of rusty water in the lines.
  • Stock up on mix and snacks so you can offer something to all the people who will stop in to see your new place and congratulate you.

Do you have any new homeowner tips to add? Anything you wish you’d done when you moved into your new place?

6.25.2012

Bad Financial Advice From My Parents

So, we've all heard bad financial advice before. What about the financial information that comes out of your parents' mouths? Do you believe it all? When I was younger (and probably until I was 21), I thought my parents were right about everything. Most of the time they were, but when it comes to finances, I got the basic gist of saving and budgeting from them, however a lot of other pertinent details about investing, debt, and money making are just out of their element and I made my own decisions based off of plenty of research. I had to (and still have to) make decisions for myself and my life based on my current situation and my needs, not based off of my parents' lifestyle.

Although I am highlighting some bad financial advice that I, luckily, figured out on my own, this is not to say that they haven't given me other solid advice. 99% of the time they do!

I hope my parents don't read this.

If you are, know that I love you guys even though I get some bad advice here and there.

My mom and dad (stepdad) at a wedding last month! Haha, they're so silly.

Bad Financial Advice From My Parents

  1. "Everyone gets into debt, everyone gets out of debt."
    Really? Everyone?! I don't think so. A lot of people struggle with debt, and I may not be able to get out of debt in the future. I'm not sure how EVERYONE does it! I'm not sure if I just read too many PF blogs, but I'm so freaking scared of debt and I am going above and beyond just to avoid it or reduce the amount of debt I will get myself into. I truly don't believe that everyone gets out of debt....it's not that easy.

  2. "You don't need a 401k right now, why do you have one already?"
    I was told this when I started contributing a lot towards my 401k and then opened up a roth IRA to invest more towards retirement. My philosophy is - save as much as I can now towards retirement since I don't need the money anyway. I would just be tempted to spend it. My mom didn't start one until 30 and my dad has one through the Navy so I guess they are not really too worried about it, or they didn't really think of the benefits of time and compound interest.

  3. "Don't be afraid of debt."
    But how can I NOT be afraid of debt? When I was getting cold feet about going to law school because of the loans I would be taking out, they coaxed me into thinking that I was just afraid of debt. They think that me not having any debt at all from undergrad is the reason why I am so afraid of being in debt. The truth is, debt is scary, no matter how much you have. It's a burden that stays with you...not to mention the interest, and what you could be buying with the money spent on paying back debt.

  4. "Open up a lot of credit cards to build credit."
    After listening to this advice I ended up with a bunch of store credit cards that I forgot I even had. I was 18 at the time. I don't use them anymore and never even really used them! I built my credit with just one Citibank credit card, and it was a student card. I used it for everything for 4 years before moving on and finding the perfect 2 credit cards and working out the best system to maximize my spending/rewards. My mom and dad now have the same cards after my recommendation!

  5. "Making money is easy later. You're just a negative thinker."
    This was the response I got after I sent them both an email listing out the amount of loans I would need to take out, the fixed interest rate, and the monthly payments I will be making based off of a 15-year and 30-year loan. Student loans never leave you, I remember typing. You can't even claim bankruptcy because of student loans.

  6. "Get an iPad."
    For my 24th birthday last November, I really wanted a Kindle Fire or just a regular Kindle or Nook. I like to read. I have my phone that has all of those cool apps that I really need. My parents convinced me I absolutely needed an iPad instead because they have one and it is the most-used gadget in the house. For me? I barely touch mine. I use it for Facetime with my little sister and Flipboard for when I'm browsing websites in bed. I don't really do that though, so it was a huge waste of money for me. They even paid for the difference between a Kindle Fire and the iPad so I basically only paid $200 for it, and I still don't *love* it.

  7. "Invest in Apple."
    Three years ago, my dad asked me about investing. He wanted to get more involved in the stock market since he hasn't really done so before. His first idea was to invest in Apple. At the time, he knew nothing about it besides the fact that everyone was doing it and they were seeing great returns. Just because everyone else was doing it, doesn't give us a good reason to do the same. We should always do our own research, especially since we don't want to go investing blindly and ignorantly.

  8. "After you become a lawyer, you will be able to pay off those loans easily."
    I'm sure lots of parents think this way, whether you become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or whatever profession they think of as automatically "rich." It's not the case anymore. People are competing for jobs and I am preparing for the worst. I may be thinking negatively but at least I am preparing myself for what's to come and how to reduce the amount of loans I have to take out, and how them off as quickly as possible.

  9. Dad goes to Starbucks everyday.
    Lol. Just a bad example. I can already envision how much they spend on Starbucks each month, calculating how much they could save. I think he has since cut down (or maybe he just doesn't go twice a day now), but I know he still loves Starbucks more than homemade coffee..even after an expensive espresso machine was purchased!
There ya have it. 9 things that I learned from my parents that I simply brushed off. It's okay to go against what your parents tell you...it's okay to make your own decisions, and it's okay to have your own opinions even if they are different from theirs. Sometimes they can make you feel like you *need* to listen to them, but sometimes they can learn from you too!

Don't worry, they have taught me a ton about finances though...a bare bones budget lifestyle, quality over quantity, saving as much as possible, investing in property, negotiating, and a bunch of other things that I'm sure you all already have heard a ton of times so I won't get into that. Maybe another blog post is necessary for those lessons!

What kind of bad financial advice have you heard from your parents?

6.23.2012

PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week, Saturday Edition

Happy Saturday!

Life Update:

This is my last free weekend before the summer of chaos begins. I'm spending this weekend getting my brakes and oil changed (watching the BF do it actually lol), getting my tires rotated, doing tons of laundry, cleaning up and prepping the guest room for my little sister, packing for a week in Ohio, setting up posts for when I'm gone, finishing up 3 guest posts, haircut and grooming for booboo (we do this ourselves, it's a ton of work!), and I also brought some real work home.

I've been really busy at work! Just when I thought my workload was getting lighter, I've been slammed with so many different contracts to review and bids to respond to... and on top of that my desk is a mess and I need to get everything organized. I need to figure out what to take with me when I move and what files I'll need.

This past week was a good week in terms of working out. I had lunch workouts Tuesday-Thursday and I ran for a second time on 2 of those days with my dog after work. On Friday I had my favorite turbo kickboxing class. I'm going to miss it so much when I move... the vibe and energy there just light up my spirits, resulting in a kickass workout each time.

Here's a clip I found of my favorite turbo... this is actually at the gym I go to :) But I wasn't in here, just found it on YouTube.

I'll be flying out to Ohio on Wednesday, so expect a few lovely guest posts from fellow PF bloggers! I'll be bringing my laptop so I'll probably post a few updates here and there, but you can also follow me on Twitter as I'm quite the Twitter whore these days. I mentioned in my last update that my sister's volleyball club made it to Junior Olympics so we'll be there until July 3rd.

After Ohio, my sis and I fly back to San Diego and she'll be staying with us for a week. I'm stoked and I plan to take her everywhere in SD...we're going to play tourists and go to the Del Mar fair, museums, our favorite restaurants, jetskiing, boogie boarding, the dog beach and maybe the zoo or SeaWorld. I'm really excited since I've been working and studying too much and I haven't had the chance to explore SD since I first moved here 2 years ago. Back then, I was unemployed so it was much harder to experience everything.

After that week, it's the Disneyland trip with my cousins and then it's my BF's cousin's wedding, and then a trip to visit my dad and stepmom in Anaheim Hills. Since I agreed to continue working full-time until July 27th, this means that after all the craziness of July, I'll be working 2 whole weeks full-time before I move back to the bay area. That gives me a weekend of getting settled (aka organizing my closet) and then it's orientation time.
When will the madness end???

Fave Reads this Week

Money is Not the Solution to Financial Problems by The Happy Homeowner 
Do You Really Need Insurance? by The Money Princple 
What Should You Do? by Krant Cents 
Battling Shopping Addiction: Making Behavioral Changes by My Broken Coin 
Life Lessons I Learned From Super Mario by My Money Design 
How to Help Your Wedding Party Save Money by My Canuck Buck on Canadian Budget Binder
How a Frat Party Can Teach You Personal Finance by The College Investor 
Have Finance Bloggers Run Out of Things to Say? by Financial Uproar
Emergency Funds: Use Them if You Need to by Money Life and More
Buying a House by Making Sense of Cents
The True Cost of Home Ownership by See Debt Run
How to Step Up to Change - Coping Mechanisms for Those Who Are Resistant by Add Vodka
Rip-off Report #8 - Car Spotting Edition by Your Life for Less 
Financial Wisdom from Southern Sayings by You Have More Than You Think
Budget Analysis Paralysis by Below Her Means
Strategies for Paying for Vacations by Evolving PF
If the World is Ending, Is it Time to Rack Up Your Credit Cards? by Femme Frugality
Can I Really Become Less of a Brand Junkie? by American Debt Project
Is DIY a Good Idea? The Story of the Roof by Blue Collar Workman
Does It Cost More to Cook on the Oven or the Grill in the Summertime? by My Family Finances
Mortgage Broker vs. Mortgage Lender by One Smart Dollar
Top Rewards and Cash Back Credit Cards by Work Save Live
Making Decisions: Risk vs. Reward by Thirty Two Dollars
Getting Social on Socia Media by So Over Debt on Modest Money

Blog Updates and Lots of THANK YOUS...

The Alexa ranking is under 300k now. I remember freaking out when I got my own domain and seeing it at 7 million when I worked so hard to get my blogspot domain near 200k. Guess you just gotta keep doing what you're doing and the rank will fall.

I don't post up links to posts I was mentioned on, but I also want to just acknowledge it and say that I really appreciate that - thank you to everyone who include me in their weekly favorites, weekly link-ups, and/or favorite reads. Blogging can be so one dimensional sometimes since it's just me blogging on here and tweeting, but I really like that we all relate to each other and have gotten to know each other so well.

I also want to thank those on Twitter who promote and share my posts or just take the time to converse with me - You guys are awesome and such great friends. I truly appreciate it! Also, because I'm on a roll with thanking...thanks to all the readers and commenters (new and old) for always leaving comments and adding to the discussion. I just want to let you all know that you shouldn't feel obligated to comment on my blog just because I comment on yours...I genuinely like it when people want to comment to just leave their opinions or add to the discussion. I try my best to find lots of new blogs as well as keep up with my current blogs on rotation but know that I am reading a ton and commenting/promoting as much as I can.

Sorry this post is all over the place! My brain is obviously in many different places right now :)

What are your plans for the weekend? Do you have any cool vacations planned for the summer?

6.22.2012

20 Random Things You May Not Know About Me

Happy Friday! I originally had a very thought-provoking post today but I will save that for next week. It's Friday, my favorite day of the week, and I thought it would be fun to just write some random facts about me that aren't related to personal finance.  Sometimes it's nice to take a step back and learn more about the person behind the blog.  I think it should be a good time. Michelle did a post like this recently too - check it out here and eemusings did something like this too.


20 Random Things...


1. I get scared whenever I hear airplanes in the sky. 
We live right under the flight path, and I always think a plane is going to crash and kill me whenever I hear loud jets, helicopters, or planes. My heart starts pounding and I have to close my eyes and cover my ears!

2. I'm addicted to greek yogurt. 
My favorite brand is Fage. I eat it every morning with fruit, honey, sometimes granola, and now chia seeds. I add peanut butter or hazelnut butter if I'm feeling it. Oh I also use it as a dip for chips, or a substitute for sour cream.

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3. I love dipping my food in stuff. 
It just doesn't feel right eating something dry like chicken or french fries. I like all dips and sauces - ketchup, ranch, greek yogurt, spinach dip, A1 sauce, Tobasco, sriracha, etc.

4. I watch a lot of TV. 
My favorites lately have been Sons of Anarchy, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, New Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and a bunch of reality TV garbage like Jersey Shore (I know what you're thinking, stop judging me!) and Teen Mom.

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5. I'm the clumsiest person in the world. 
I'm that person that everyone laughs at because I trip over everything, skip those last steps, fall down the stairs, drop whatever it is I am holding, and I end up with bruises, cuts, and more recently, a broken toe.

6. I've been told I'm too mature for my age. 
Some people tell me I should have been born in the 50s. Apparently I'm in the wrong decade.

7. I love being on stage and performing.
I was a ballerina for the better part of my childhood years as well as a super awesome tap dancer. In high school, I was a cheerleader. I also played the piano, but I just thought it was so boring so I stopped practicing.

8. When I was younger, I was a tomboy. 
My stepdad and I used to go to wrestling matches (WWE anyone?) and I would make signs and have my dad hold them with me. He also took me mountain biking, rollerblading, hiking, and bought me my own baseball mitt so we could play catch. 

9. When I was a kid, I lived in my basketball jerseys.
I had a yellow Lakers jersey and a Bulls red jersey that I wore a lot. Even on special days like my birthday parties. I was obsessed with basketball and I cried after Michael Jordan retired. I also cried when I heard that Michael Jordan was going to get a sex change so he could play in the WNBA. LOL.

10. I'm a very dramatic person. 
Any story I tell will always include lots of elaborate details and hand motions. Also, lots of head nodding and different facial expressions may be included.

11. I used to have a fashion blog before this blog.
I was blogging on a fashion blog for about a year (when I was getting into debt). I used to take pictures of my outfits like the one below. I know, kind of a waste of time. Glad I made the switch.

Yay for outfit pics! Those jeans are really..baggy.


12. I have a problem with saying "like" a lot. 
It must be the California girl in me. Must work on that.

13. I love shoes and bags.
I have a slight obsession with shoes...specifically wedges and boots. All kinds! It's subsided a lot, but I remember buying shoes almost every other week. That was when I knew it was bad. I have sold a ton though. I also used to love designer purses, but I do have a soft spot for Chanel.

My first Chanel. It's vintage and I got it shipped from Japan.


14. I'm not afraid to laugh at myself. 
I'm very down to earth and can laugh off anything. I don't hold grudges and I never stay mad at anyone for more than a second (unless you're my boyfriend, then I can probably go a few hours being angry at you).

15. I have a very addictive personality. 
Sometimes I think I have ADD. Whether it's studying, working, exercising, cooking, baking... I get into full-on addictive mode and become very attached to whatever it is I'm into. I'm an all or nothing type of person. If I'm not in that addictive mode, I'm exactly the opposite and I don't care.

16. I talk to my dog all the time, even in public. 
Sometimes people look at me like I'm crazy, but they really don't know that my dog understands me, so it's all good.

Say hi to my pekingese/toy poodle Booboo!

17. My boyfriend and I fight all the time about how to train our dog...
I'm apparently a really bad trainer. BF will do lots of doggie boot camp training classes with little Booboo, and then I go and teach him very bad habits. I should also work on this.

18. I really want to be a pilates instructor or Turbo Kick instructor. 
In addition to being a lawyer, my dream job is to be a group fitness instructor. In a perfect world, I would get to own my own business as an attorney, and work a few days of the week at the gym or pilates studio teaching classes.

19. I went to an all-girls private high school.
These were 4 of my favorite years in my life. I actually enjoyed going to school because it was that fun. Imagine having classes with all of your friends. It was laid back and crazy, but we worked hard.

20. I love chocolate covered gummy bears and all types of candy. 
I'm trying to cut down on sugar and processed foods now though :(

So there you have it. 20 very random facts about me. My real self has been revealed. Hopefully knowing more about me doesn't make you stop reading my blog. I'm kind of a weird person, but there isn't anything wrong with being open right? Lol.

So 'fess up everyone, what kind of random things can you come up with about yourself?

6.21.2012

Why I Love Having a Female Boss

In my last post, I alluded to some good news at work. Remember how this Friday was supposed to be my last day? Originally I gave my company 3 weeks’ notice of termination because I wanted to allow as much time as possible for them to hire a replacement. I was willing to train that person too. Yeah, well… that ain’t happening anymore. As of right now, I don’t have a last day.

But I’m still moving back home for school in August. What?!

Last week my boss told me that our SVP (he’s our big boss for our Division) told her that corporate is actually laying off a bunch of people, and instead of laying off in our department, they decided that they will just not replace my position. It’s ridiculous because our department is already overworked and every person is swamped. We only have 5 people in our dept and we handle all of the contracts and leases for the whole entire Western Division. That’s 8 states. Two years ago, there were actually 8 people in our department and they had less work because we have added a ton of sites due to acquisitions recently. Makes no sense. But it’s actually good for me.

During this whole process, I’ve just realized that I love having a female boss.

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Here’s why:

She understands that I need to spend time with my family.

There’s no way for the dept to handle my workload since I’m the only person that does the non-standard agreements and all of the contract negotiation for the West. My boss asked me if I could work contingently until they figured out what to do with my position. She said that it basically means I can work whenever I want, and I can still go on all of my planned vacations.

She knew that I wanted to go to Ohio for my sister’s Junior Olympics, that I had a Disneyland trip scheduled with my cousins in July, and that my parents are coming to Coronado for a beach trip at the end of July. She also knows my sister will be here for a week and she is letting my sister come to work if I decide to come in.

She looks out for me and wants what is best for me, like a friend.

Originally, we had planned for this Friday to be my last day. The problem with that idea is that I would lose my benefits when I switch from full-time to EOC exempt, and I still have to go to the optometrist as well as get my crown done at the dentist. My boss knew that I was trying to get all of my appointments done before my benefits ended, so she suggested extending my full-time employment until July 27th.

Right now I have 11 days of time off on the books. If I go towards EOC exempt right away, the payroll is funky and I’d have to set a limited amount of hours each week. My boss brought up staying full-time to keep my benefits as well as using my paid time off for those 11 days I will be on vacation.

This way, I can keep my benefits, get paid for 40 hours a week, not have to worry about working while I am on vacation, and also not stress about trying to get on my mom’s company’s benefits before I move.

She is patient, flexible, and accommodating.

Right from the get go, she was devastated that I put in my notice. However, I have been working with her to really figure out what is best for me and the company. At first, I was just ending my employment. Then, she brought up working contingently. After that, she brought up working with me to extend full-time employment. Next, I asked her if I could continue to work here even after school begins. I made sure to tell her that I could only work 10 hours a week (law school rules), and she suggested working only on Saturdays so I could avoid the traffic on weekdays.

She also reached out to our NorCal GM and he happily agreed to find an office for me in our NorCal location. On top of that, they are even checking to see if I can work out of a patient service center in San Jose, which is much closer than our San Leandro lab.

She listens and she is compassionate.

I think this one is most important for me. She identifies with us and she lets us know that she understands what we are going through. I really like that she knows a lot about me and what’s going on in my life. I can talk to her about my work, people in the company that frustrate me, what I’m thinking, and I can go to her for help.

Having a boss like her makes me not want to leave this company, and I am really glad that she is open to new ideas and making different alternatives for me to work out of a different location. I’d still be doing the same job, but of course with much limited hours.

The Plan

We’ll see what happens and if I can handle school and work simultaneously, but I’ve always had a job while going to school full-time. A lot of my friends who went to law school or who are in law school, keep telling me that the first year is the toughest, and that you can’t work at all…because there’s just no time. I really want to prove them wrong though.

Thisjob is zero stress, and that’s at 40-50 hours a week. Imagine 10 hours a week, and I don’t have a micro-manager for a boss… so why wouldn’t I give it a shot? This will also help me in reducing the amount of loans I take out, because I would still be getting paid the same (just on an hourly basis now instead of salary). So getting paid for 10 hours a week would be better than nothing. I could also keep it on my resume. Also, and this is a huge reason, our SVP told me I should come back and work here when I get my degree and pass the bar. That would be my dream job! If I could maintain my relationship with the company, that would be ideal.

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I’ve had male bosses in the past and most of the time, they were fun to be around because they were always cracking jokes or making conversation, but there is just a different level of intimacy with having a female boss. Maybe it’s because I am a female too, and she just has a way of communicating with me. Maybe she has better senses than a male boss would. This in turn, leads to better performance reviews for me and big raises. We have a great connection so it's a win-win for both of us and the company. Either way, all of those negative connotations with female bosses are not always true!

Obviously not all female bosses are the same though, but I’m glad my boss wasn’t like the one in The Devil Wears Prada. I work in the healthcare industry though, so I’d imagine the fashion industry would be more different.

Do you prefer having a female or male boss? What are the pros and cons of having a female or male boss?

6.19.2012

PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week, The I Have 2 Dads Edition

Okay, this post is really late. I don't even know what week these links are from. I am most likely combining my favorites from the past 2 weeks. I was out of town this weekend and I am also very swamped with my real job, so since Tuesdays are boring - I'm spicing things up with a link love post.

Where I've Been this Week:
  • I guest posted over at Mr. CBB's site, Canadian Budget Binder, and talked about How to Deal with a Shopping Addiction.
  • I swapped blogs with Kevin of Springcoin on Friday, and talked about My Biggest Money Mistake over at his blog.
  • I was out of town from Thursday night to Sunday night, and watched my little brother's volleyball tournament. It was fun hanging out with the family and going shopping with my mom. I didn't buy anything except $9 sunglasses at H&M.
  • My boyfriend and I slept on a sofa bed the whole weekend and hurt our backs. On the last night we finally decided to put the mattress on the floor... crazy difference it made! I did enjoy free breakfast at the Hilton though. It's always nice waking up to free (good) food.
  • I had a dentist appt yesterday and I have to get a crown. Good news, I really like this dentist. Bad news, my benefits end this Friday so I need to figure out my insurance coverage soon.
  • Got some pretty cool news at work last week, regarding my job. I'll be sure to share that in another post as it's kinda long.
  • My BF bought me my laptop for school. I got an ASUS. I'm not too excited about it since I'm so used to the simplicity and beauty (lol) of my Macbook but I do love PCs to do work on. I'm also very thankful he bought it for me! Well - he's keeping my Macbook so maybe it was an even trade-off. The laptop was $629.
  • I got my orientation schedule for school. Let's just say I'm so nervous and anxious! Orientation is 4 days long. Is that really necessary!?
  • I'm going to Ohio next week for my sister's Junior Olympics for volleyball. So stoked! Her team is amazingly good and ranked #3 in Northern California. They're only 12, yet they've beaten the 14-year-old teams.
I Have 2 Dads

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It was Father's Day this past Sunday and I foolishly forgot to buy both of them gifts, and I'm late on writing a father's day post. I'm such a slacker! :( If anyone has any gift ideas for this procrastinator, I'm definitely open to them. Usually I get my dad a mug with a picture of me, my brother and sister on it. He has about 3 now, and they all show us progressively getting older. My mom really wants me to get another one so I'm leaning towards that. My real dad (I call my biological father my real dad, and my stepdad "dad" - it's just easier) asked for a Nissan... and well, I can't afford that.

I am very blessed to have my stepdad, who has been there for me since I was 5. My biological father and I recently got very close once I moved to SoCal since he lives here. I can't imagine life without either of them, as they both are huge influencers and role models in my life.

I learned so much from both of them, and I am truly grateful for all of the guidance and advice they gave me throughout my life.

Without them, I wouldn't know how to...
  • think ahead
  • plan for my future
  • predict and deal with future consequences
  • pick myself up after I fail
  • think optimistically
  • think realistically
  • analyze thoroughly
  • believe in myself
  • how to fight my battles intelligently
Most importantly they both always believe in me, and they think of my success as their success. My motivation and itch to do so well in life is mainly because both of my dads push me so hard to achieve my goals and they are always behind me. So thank you to both of them, especially my stepdad, who has been there since day 1. Without him I wouldn't have had a father figure growing up, and that means so much to me. Can you imagine becoming a stepfather for a 5-year-old? Whose name and face resembled your new wife's ex-husband? He didn't hesitate to take me in as his own daughter. I'm tearing up as I type this because he has been there for me, even when I went through my rebellious teenager phase.

Okay I'm done being dramatic! Hope you all had a great Father's day!

Favorite Reads of the Week (or past 2 weeks):

It's Not Necessary to Save for Your Kid's College Education by Add Vodka 
Overcoming Unemployment Challenges by Modest Money
Friends with Money by Budget and the Beach
What Happens to Social Media Accounts if We Die by Good Financial Cents
I Bought a Car by Savvy Financial Latina
What to Do with Your 401k When You Leave Your Job by One Smart Dollar
Best Online Banks by Work Save Live
Don't Put Your Life on Hold to Pay Off Debt by My Alternate Life
7 Ways to Live Like a Millionaire (without Going into Debt) by Man vs. Debt
35 Money Lies People Tell Regularly by Finance Fox
Business Law 101 for New Start-Ups by My Personal Finance Journey
How I Became Debt Free by Careful Cents
Sparkling Water that Pays for Itself by Below Her Means
Cait's Big News and First Vlog by Blonde on a Budget
How to Say No When a Sibling Asks for Money by Prairie Eco Thrifter
I Don't Care if She's Eyeballs Deep in Credit Card Debt, She Looks Fabulous by Money After Graduation
In Defense of Gold Diggers by My Broken Coin
7 Ways to Stop Eating Out by Money Ning
Has Travel Become a Way to Keep Up with the Jonses? by Well Heeled Blog
How to Always Get What You Want at Mind Body Green
How to Move Out on a Shoestring Budget by Evolving PF
When Being Cheap Doesn't Pay Off by Cents of a Country Girl
7 Financial Hacks to Avoid (hilarious!) by The Free Financial Advisor
5 Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Home by Master the Art of Saving
Have You Ever Accepted Something You Didn't Need? by So Over Debt
You Don't Have to Impress People by The Family Finances
Investing for Beginners by Making Sense of Cents
How to Handle Horrible Neighbors by Mo Money Mo Houses
5 Time Management Tips for the Employed Entrepreneur by You Have More than You Think
The Real Reason You Fail at Budgeting by DollarVersity
Why I Don't Invest in Individual Stocks by I Am 1%
Getting to Know My Fellow Bloggers by My Jam Packed Life
Our $7,000 Southern California Wedding: The Budget Recap by Well Heeled Blog
Are Frugal Men Sexy and How to Potentially Spot One by Canadian Budget Binder


Just to make this a not-boring post - What is your take on becoming a step-parent? Would you be open to adopting a child who isn't your own? Does anyone else have step-parents or step-children?

6.18.2012

Shopping Smart & Not Settling For Less

Happy Monday everyone! Today I have a special guest on the blog. Janelle and I met online because I was an avid reader of her blog. She was looking for this lace top from Forever 21 that was sold out, and I actually still had it, with the tags still on, and I never wore it! I offered it to her and she bought it from me, and the rest is history! She actually inspired me to start blogging about personal finance because I was so intrigued with the way she was able to save money and buy a condo all on her own. We've become great friends and I'm sure you'll enjoy her blog!


Onto the post!


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Hi From Shopping to Saving readers! This is Janelle from the blog elleandish.  I blog about shopping, decor, DIY, travel and trying to pay for it all.  













Shopping Smart & Not Settling For Less

I distinctly remember a time when I was shopping with my mom at Target.  I think I was about 10 years old.  Even at a young age I’d routinely peruse the girls’ section, flipping through the racks, knowing that I couldn’t buy much without my mother’s permission.  

That day, though, I was looking at a bright green, knit sweater.  It had a mock turtleneck, wide ribs, and a zipper down the middle.  I think it had two thick horizontal stripes near the collarbone too:  white and black.  My mom saw me touching it and asked if I wanted to get it.  

“Okay,” I replied.  But I knew in my mind it wasn’t the greatest sweater.  I wasn’t that excited about it.  In the end, I don’t think I ever wore it.  Not once.  It sat in a drawer in my room until I grew too big to fit it.

I was too caught up in the moment.  I was holding the sweater in my hands and I wanted to have IT.  Something!  Even though it was just “okay.”

That was one of my first memories of shoppers remorse.  But it wasn’t my last.

Since then I have made the following shopping mistakes:  

  • Shopping too often when I’m bored and buying more than I actually need or wear
  • My closet has some items with the tags still on
  • Wearing many items only once or never
  • A continuous cycle of binging, then purging new items with tags or items that are damaged due to poor quality

Nowadays, I’m trying to make smarter shopping decisions.  Shopping smartly requires self awareness.  When you shop, don’t focus on the item and how *pretty/cute/sparkly/gorgeous* it is.... instead concentrate on YOU.  



Focus on your life, your lifestyle, your finances, and your aspirations for the future. 


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Quality:  Is it up to YOUR level?  Does it make you feel amazing?  Don’t settle for less!

Let’s talk about “fast fashion.”  
Is the quality worth your hard earned money, even if it’s cheap?  YOU are #1 here.  A lot of people shop to feel better about themselves.  No.  You are already amazing!  What you buy needs to be up to YOUR LEVEL.  It sounds cheesy, but thinking of it this way helps me a lot.

Be picky! Look at items with a keen eye.  Is there something that bugs you about it?  Is it unflattering on you?  If so, put it down.  (I tell myself, if it bugs me now, I will probably hate it once the “newness” fades away.)  Something else will come along that will outshine it and you will forget all about this one!  

Look for quality.  Will it pill in the wash?  Do you already see damage on the item hanging on the hanger?  For me personally, I check to see if the damage is easily fixable.  If not, it’s probably not worth the trouble to maintain.

Peruse the aisles.  Fast fashion constantly changes inventory but in general the trends for that season can last for months.  Take in the trends, the different cuts and styles for that season.  Shopping doesn’t always have to be about the act of acquiring.  Think of it as an experience to increase your sartorial knowledge; it can be a time to reflect on your shopping priorities and to make better choices for yourself.    

Window shop different stores, compare and see what new additions can be right for your wardrobe.  Mull it over instead of buying on impulse.  Different stores are competing for your dollar and you deserve the absolute best of what they have to offer.    

Now what about luxury, name brand or designer items?

Most times, name brands or designer brands will have higher quality to match.  So it’s easy to say, “Hey its worth it. I’m worth it!”  The quality will be there, sure.  But the higher cost will require more thinking on your part to determine if it’s worth it for you to buy.  Are you still going to be excited about this item, months or even years from now?  

Let’s say the brand name excites you!  Aside from the perceived high quality, the name brand is why consumers purchase these items at such a high cost.  If you put it on, do you want to jump for joy?  Or is it just, “okay?”  Even if the brand is highly coveted, you shouldn’t settle for just “okay” at such a high cost!  Again, be picky and don’t settle for less!

Dreaming should be encouraged!  There’s no harm window shopping designer clothes or accessories.  Doing so can reaffirm your closet priorities and daydreaming about a high quality item makes fast fashion a bit less palatable.  

Now on to the more practical stuff.

Your lifestyle:  Will you wear/use it?

Know yourself.  Know what you will probably wear or not wear. Does it fit your lifestyle?  If you work, does it fit your dress code at your job?  Does it fill a void in your wardrobe, or do you have a very similar item already?

Take a look at your closet.  Do you continuously buy the same kind of things but never wear them?  Are you buying into a lifestyle that doesn’t match your own?  Be honest with yourself.

Think of your wardrobe in terms of a well balanced meal.  Do you regularly wear the ‘meat and potatoes’ staples 80% of the time and the ‘desserts’ only 20% of the time?  Or even less than that?  Keep this in mind when buying a wardrobe full of your ‘just desserts.’  

 
Does it align with your current finances and financial goals?

If a clearance price or item availability pressures you to buy, ask yourself, “Am I even going to remember this item next week?  Or next month?  Is it going to kill me to think about it for a day or two?”  If you still want to buy the item, check the return policy and then keep the receipt.  After the initial high wears off, decide if the spent money was worth it.    

Will this purchase set you back financially?  If so, will it hinder your other dreams goals for the future?  Owning a home?  Providing for your future family?  Traveling the world?

Shopping initially feels exhilarating and fulfilling.   It can enhance your wardrobe and boost your esteem.   But experiences, memories and peace of mind can last much longer.   If you shop just to accumulate, in the end you’re valuing material things instead of putting yourself first.  It does sound a bit backwards, but that’s how I like to think of it.      

Hopefully this post has made you reflect upon your shopping habits a little bit.  Do you have any tips to share?  

:D



Editor's Note: I LOVED THIS POST. I think I need to print it out and carry it with me wherever I shop or have the urge to shop. J - thanks so much for guest posting for me, you are so awesome!
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