Monthly Archives: February 2012
Good morning! By the time you guys are reading this (if you like to get up at 6 am PST and hop on your feed reader), I will be on a plane to Miami! I’ll be gone for a few days for a little business trip. What does that mean? It means I have to be very cautious because I’m bringing my credit card to pay for my expenses on the trip (no, not cautious about that, besides, Escobar was nabbed years ago). I have been restrained for quite a few months now with all extra spending and I will be pretty busy the entire four days but who knows what kind of awesome bikinis the hotel gift shop sells (all bets are off if I see a Maaji or Agua Bendita for under $40 but that’s not very likely). On to the links!
Our friend at Punch Debt finally made his big announcement, and it’s really, really sweet. MANteresting is his brand new site allowing all manner of manly man to nail his favorite images from around the web. Yes, it is Pinterest for Men. But guess what? Just like Nivea for Men, the men’s version smells delicious! I just wasted 20 minutes over there and had a few good laughs. Check it out, sign up and nail it.
I love standup comedy. My favorite comedians are Joe Rogan, Brian Regan and Adam Carolla of the contemporaries. If you are looking for good Netflix watching, watch Louis CK’s Hilarious (especially his first 10 minutes on the topic of divorce) and Norm MacDonald’s special. Also check out Amir K, he’s an up-and-coming LA comedian. Every time I hear “tell us some jokes you fucking clown”, I just have to go back and watch it again. If you can go out and support comedy at a live show, do it. There is the two-drink minimum, but tickets at the Comedy and Magic Club (Hermosa Beach) and the Improv (Irvine) are usually way cheaper than any other kind of night on the town.
Personal Finance Reads
How exciting that Jana at Daily Money Shot is debt free! But now she has to figure out what comes next.
Wealth Informatics is trying to figure out why we don’t quit or change jobs even if they make us unhappy.
Super Frugalette is putting money in the 401K instead of paying down debt.
Dr. Dean says single women should reconsider their home ownership dreams, although the reasons could apply to just about everyone.
Money Green Life gives the Warning Signs of Too Much Debt.
Funancials cracked me up with his genius business idea.
My favorite post at Smart Family Finance was Financial Reasons to Get Rid of Your Junk. (I’ve been doing a lot of that lately)
Smart Wealth reminds us of Credit Card Pitfalls. Like I said, I always need a reminder in this department.
Modest Money reviewed Margin Call. A great movie with excellent acting, except for that turd Penn Badgley.
Money Infant does an awesome job tackling the buying versus renting a home debate. I want to buy so badly! I think I will have some good news to post soon on this topic (not big steps, little steps).
9 Smart Moves in a Tough Economy: I love how Step Away From the Mall analyzed this CNNMoney article. Surprisingly, they did pretty well until the last contestant.
This geography-focused post at Money Principle is great for all up-and-coming real estate investors.
Finally, please check out Money Smart Guides, new on my radar but an excellent blog. Gas Prices Rise but that doesn’t mean the world is ending.
So you want to clean your closet but have no idea where to start? Recently walked into your closet only to immediately walk back out because “it wasn’t worth it”? My closet seemed to always be turning into a clothes-strewn mess, but I finally spent an evening getting out of my wardrobe nightmare (not the malfunction kind, just the kind where I am trying to cram 40 shirts into an already crammed cubbyhole) and I plan on keeping it pretty neat from now on. I knew it was time to declutter when I could no longer find one pair of jeans that fit out of 15 pairs I owned.
I was ready for a clean, organized closet. Here’s how I did it:
Step 1: Assess the Situation
The first thing you have to do is figure out where you are. Here is my closet before cleaning and organizing. WARNING: Graphic photos below! Not for the OCD neat freak at heart.
Step 2: Empty the Entire Closet
Step 3: Cry
Oh my God. What have you done?! Do you realize how long it’s going to take to put everything back? It’s 9 PM on a Friday night! OK, breathe. You can do this. You just have to start somewhere. Let’s start somewhere easy and simple, like shoes.
Step 4: Start Putting Things Back in Separate Sections
It’s doesn’t matter how you want to organize things, just as long you know the system and you’ll stick with it. No coming home and stuffing clothes into any random spot. Here are some different ways to organize your clothes, shoes and accessories:
- By colors of the rainbow (like Andrea)
- By category (blazers, jackets, tops, pants, skirts)
- By mood (how does this shirt make you feel?)
- By price (Saks clothes in the front, Goodwill clothes towards the end)
- By size/quantity/ease of use of pockets (cargo pants in the front, leather leggings towards the end)
- By rating of 1-5 how likely this outfit will be be seen in the next Miley Cyrus video (cutoff shorts and dirty tank tops in the front, everything else towards the end)
I just went with the boring old category organization route. I used the cubbyholes for stuff I use a lot, like purses, belts and workout clothes. I also replaced all of my multi-colored hangers with uniform white hangers. Yes, I stuffed all the extra hangers onto my boyfriend’s side of the closet. Who’s gonna stop me?!
Step 5: Donate, Toss and Recycle What’s No Longer Being Used
As you put things into their newly designated permanent homes (that you will never, ever defile by placing the wrong thing in a section again), you should also be separating the stuff you no longer wear or use. Was it hard for me to say goodbye to tees that reminded me of college and size 25 designer jeans I can no longer fit one leg into? Not really. I’m so over stuff and I was happy to get rid of five garbage bags of it to Goodwill! I thought about selling some of the fancy stuff on eBay, but I would rather have someone find it for cheap at a Goodwill store. It feels like a little bit of good karma to get rid of years of accumulated stuff and send it down an unknown, but hopefully happy path.
Enough talk! Who’s ready to see some pictures??
The “After” Pictures
I still have a lot of clothes. But now I can see what I have and I’ve once again found a bunch of stuff I’d thought I’d lost months ago, which I’m excited to wear again. It feels great to walk into a closet and see things I can wear. I miss the fun of getting new clothes, but having a new closet is making a lot of the temptation to buy new things fade away.
Have you done a declutter or cleanout recently? Please feel free to share a link to your organizing and cleaning posts below! If you have other tips on how to keep your closets organized, please let me know!
I’m out sick. Since I don’t get sick very often, I’ve also been beating myself up for calling out sick and not “taking care of business” like I need to. This in turn makes me emotional and now I’m tearing up over ITT Tech commercials. “What’s wrong with you? The man got his AA and he’s very happy! Just be happy for him!” (I also noticed all the commercials during daytime television were really depressing. Each one kept referring to the high cost of living before offering some kind of subprime credit solution.)
But I will be back. Most likely by tomorrow evening at the latest. Don’t unsubscribe from this blog, I promise to crank out some good ones as soon as I stop coughing and get my voice back. Not that I technically need my voice to blog, but you know what I mean.
I have to cut the small expenses because I don’t have the option of reducing my rent or loan payments right now. But doing all of the little things is making a serious difference for my wallet and stress level.
1. Work out at home or for free: I don’t pay gym fees and I don’t have the added costs of driving to the gym. Instead, I have my BFF Jillian Michaels telling me to work out until “I feel like I’m going to die” and then do another minute of abs. I also have the P90x workout set, an MTV Yoga DVD and something called the living room floor. I use it to do crunches and core exercises. My other workouts are similarly priced: tennis at the one of the many public courts around town, running at the park or soccer. Making a schedule to work out after work also prevents me from doing other, more costly activities. I miss surfing and swimming a lot, but it’s harder to get to the beach these days (I need to fix that).
2. Tap Water, Tap Water, Everywhere: I love me some unrefined, un-Brita-filtered tap water. I hear “Ew, tap water is gross” a lot. That warning falls on deaf ears. I drink tap water all the time. I just like it! And it also helps me resist the urge to order a Coke when I’m dining out. Speaking of which…
3. Avoiding dining out unless I absolutely have to. Unless it’s a business meal or an opportunity to meet new people, I’m really avoiding dining out. If a friend invites me out, I just invite them over for dinner. Because I do have to eat.
4. Not driving all over town. I’ve only filled my tank twice this month and it’s the 17th! I think that might be a personal record. I used to jump in my car and drive all over town randomly. I’m doing less of that. I try to fit a bunch of trips/errands into one outing.
5. No small (under $5) purchases. It used to be that anything under $5 was given a free pass. T-shirt for $3.99 at Ross? SOLD! Three types of candy as an afternoon snack? DONE! Sorry, you little gremlin purchases. You’re done feeding off my money. I’ve spent $2 on chocolate this month. Compared to what I realized I regularly spend on unhealthy snacks, that’s a huge improvement.
6. Avoid the mall. That’s easier said than done. Malls, shopping centers, promenades have all been my lifelong friends. I need to write a separate eulogy post on ending such a long companionship. (I think it’s gonna be a good one!)
7. “Balance” after every transaction. Now that I only use debit and not credit, I can’t spend freely and hope it works out at the end of the month. Man, it never does! But now I have an exact idea of how much money I have left in my checking account. This usually deters me from purchases I would have otherwise made. I remember I have to get gas, pay for an oil change, or whatever.
8. Track everything I spend. It’s kind of fun. I did it for the first time in January, and I’ve kept it up in February. Think about how meticulous and precise you are at work. You do things a certain way, you have a system for keeping track of what tasks you need to do and when. So how come when you come home it’s like one huge party in your brain? “No systems! No planning! I do what I want!” I know, I want to party and be crazy too. But we just can’t go too crazy until we figure this money thing out. So start tracking.
9. Bring my lunch to work. I finally got a little insulated lunch tote. It’s quilted and kinda cute. I’m pretty proud of it. At first I was bad at packing my lunch. I’d have two minutes before I needed to get out the door and I was stuffing whatever was in the fridge in my lunch bag. Then noon would roll around and I’m eating dry lettuce and some stale pita bread. I felt like I was punishing myself. But I’ve gotten much better! I use little containers to bring dressing, yogurt, or other little things and I pack fruits, granola and other good snacks. I no longer feel like I’m eating sawdust! Lunch is good again.
10. Set reminders. Whether it was filing my taxes, paying my car registration or buying flights early instead of last minute, I’m finally doing things ahead of time. Last year I paid my car registration late and had to pay an extra $35. I was so mad at myself. This year: I’ve got that reminder in my phone, baby! I’ll be damned if I pay another late fee ever again (except of course, if California’s giant earthquake disaster happens and I forget to schedule some payment. But I’ll just call and ask them to waive the fee once the dust settles).
What are the little ways you’re saving money? Have you had to change your approach to spending lately? I need to know!