Archive for the 'Life' Category

Post-College 101: Saving Money on the Necessities

One thing that we, recent college graduates, need to learn…and learn fairly quickly is how to save money.  Whether we are out in our own place, back at home with the family, or sharing a space with a roommate, it will be a struggle to save money while living the life we feel we deserve after college.

Here are some tips to help you figure out where to save a few dollars here and there.  What’s great about these tips is that they are not special tips only applicable to recent college graduates.  These tips can apply to anyone.

Money saving tips:

1. Quantity Sales – Often times, a grocery or clothing store will have a sale that reads something like “4 for $12″…where they make it seem like you only get a discount if you buy a certain Check to see if you have to buy the quantity to get the discount.

2. Thrift Stores/Consignment Shops – A good thrift store should be a part of your shopping rounds.  Gifts, clothing, accessories, jewelry and often times just a plain old good time is available at a lot of thrift stores.  If you do some research in for your local area, there may be some stores that carry fairly current things.  Thrift stores are no longer only limited to things from the 1950’s.

3. Go to the clearance section 1st. – There’s a reason clearance sections are usually in the back. They hope that you’ll have your hands full with the expensive stuff before you make it back to the clearance section.  When my sister and I go shopping, we make a habit of going straight to the clearance section.  Clearance sections are great because sometimes it gets you to try new colors and styles that you wouldn’t have thought about.  Yes you won’t have the latest trends, but guaranteed, the fact that you’ll walk out of a store with a full bag of clearance things, instead of a small bag with one shirt, will make you feel like a diva fashionista anyway!

4. Spread major expenditures over a long period of time. – I know that we’re excited about getting furniture for our new place or feel like we need a new professional wardrobe for our jobs, but major spending should be spread out over a period of time.  The way I do it is assign each check to 1 major expenditure. (This works best with salaried jobs)  I know this kinda breaks the ‘don’t spend money that you don’t have’ rule, but the thought process of planning, allocating and budgeting outweights following that rule as long as you want to have the money to pay with, and not put it on credit.

5. The dollar store – The dollar store can be a great way to save on things that you need.  It’s true that the quality of some of these things may be a little lacking, but there are some things that can be bought at the dollar store without for-going quality. Things such as cleaning supplies and snacks can be purchased at the dollar store, and they’ll work just as well as the ones you would pay more money for.  The best way to figure out what can and can’t be purchased at the dollar store is to go to the dollar store on a day where you would just want to look, no spending.  Then, on shopping days, go to the typical stores, but then make a note of what you saw at the dollar store.  After you hit up the usual spots, go back to the dollar store and buy your remaining items.

Do you have any other tips?  I would love to hear them!

Pep Boys Almost Ruined My Saturday

Yesterday, I went to a Pep Boys in Houston to get the brakes changed on my car.  I figured that they would be busy so I called in the morning to ask if I needed to make an appointment.  The guy that answered said he could put me in at 11am.  That was cool with me.  He told me that since they accept walk-ins that there may be a car in front of me, but they would be in the next available spot.

Once I get there, the woman at the counter was nice.  She was helpful and got the paperwork done quickly, but then this chick dropped the bomb on me: the wait was going to be 2.5 hours.  “2.5 hours…to finish it?” I asked.  “No, 2.5 hours just to get it looked at.”

Now, I’m pretty sure she caught the dirty look I made, so she looked a little surprised, when I said “Ok, just call me as soon as it’s been looked at.”  I’m think she was already getting ready to get a manager.  I was upset because I had an appointment and really didn’t see why Pep Boys took appointments if they were going to make you wait anyway.  I decided to just hold my tongue because Pep Boys is viewed as low cost and in this economy, low cost competitors get slammed with business.  I decided to be a good citizen and try to be patient.

Sure enough, 2.5 hours later someone calls me and tells me that I need to change my front brakes and resurface the back brakes.  The price fell in the exact range I expected I told them to go ahead and do the work. I asked how much longer and I think he wanted to say an hour, but he finally said 1.5 hours.  Fine.

I get back to Pep Boys 1.5 hours later and some dude looks as me and says “Honda?”  I need about 45 more minutes.  Alright, now I’m getting more pissed off.  Why isn’t my car ready?  I’ve been already waiting 4 hours to get it done and it’s still not ready.

An hour later, I’m still waiting around the store.  That’s when I notice that there is a TV that shows what’s going on in the shop.  I find my car on the screen and NO ONE IS WORKING ON IT!  Why the hell are people standing around and no one is working on my car!?!

I was debating as to whether I wanted to say something, but the assistant manager comes up to me first.  He apologizes because he knows I’ve been waiting for a long time.  He explains something to me that something unique about my brakes is the reason why it’s taking so long.  He lets me grab a drink from the fridge while I continue to wait and he also offers me 10% off.  Now, I’m not easily impressed with salesman pitches and things of that nature, but I was impressed with his professionalism and seemingly genuine concern for having me wait.

In the end, I was happy with my new brakes, the price that I paid for them, and the level of customer service at this Pep Boys.  I think they may be my new car shop preference.  As long as the prices stay resonaable and the customer service stays high, I’ll be happy, and so will my car!

More Than Just Love Lessons from the movie ‘Twilight’

So I fall into the category of people who got dragged by a friend to watch the movie Twilight.  Personally, I didn’t even want to watch it, but it was Thanksgiving break @ school so mostly everyone was gone that weekend.

Now before all the die-hard Twilight fans get defensive…I want to say that I DO like the movie.  I’m a total sap for romantic movies & Twilight is definitely up there when it comes to romance.

There is one part that I could never get over though.  It’s the part where Bella & Edward are in the woods, and Edward is explaining to Bella why he can’t go into the sunlight.  He claims that he turns into this monster, so I was excited when Bella insisted that Edward show her what he looked like in the sunlight.

Now, I’m excited because when someone says “I turn into a monster”, I’m thinking Edward turns green, grows horns, loses teeth…stuff life that.  Therefore, imagine my disappointment when Edward steps into the sunlight, turns to Bella, and the only thing that changes is the sparkles in his skin.

“WTF!” is the first that comes to my mind.  Edward Cullen doesn’t look like a monster!  He looks like someone pushed him into a bin of diamond dust!  I couldn’t let that go for a loong time.

In fact, I brought it up to my sister the other day.  I explained to her what I just explained to you, and instead of laughing and reacting the way I did, she made a simple statement.  She said, “I wonder if that makes a statement about the issue of self-image and society’s view of beauty.”  Dang my sister is smart!

This got me thinking.  Often times, pop culture dictates the standards one needs to achieve in order to be deemed beautiful.  Print & broadcast media surround us with men and women that are “beautiful” and tell us that this is how we need to dress and act to be accepted and considered attractive.  A lot of money, tears, and stress is put into trying to work toward almost impossible goals.  The source of the most harsh criticism, however, comes from within a person.  Often times, you can read the news or talk to people and be completely in shock as to the self-esteem issues people deal with on a day to day basis.  It reminds me of a piece of wisdom I’ve heard my whole life:  It doesn’t matter what people think of you, it only matter that you think highly about yourself.

Going back to the Twilight example, this is what Edward Cullen went through.  His non vampire world put this immense pressure on him to look a certain way.  Yes, diamond skin is not the norm, but definitely not a stock picture of a ‘monster’.  It didn’t matter though.  Edward’s own interpretation of his self-image was far worse than any…..  I believe that it was his failure to meet his own standards of beauty, not the world’s, that kept him obsessed with staying out of the sun.

The moral of the story…be your own biggest fan!  Know that you are beautiful, no matter what people may say!

“Always keep a smile on your face, because you never know who may be falling in love with it.”


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