Thursday, October 1, 2009

How living with my parents helped save $$

My mom accuses me of being cheap. She teases me and brings it up in conversations with my grandma, uncle and dad. I like to consider myself as being frugal. Such a comment from her doesn't hurt my feelings at all- it just pisses me. It's something I don't quite understand because my father always told me to take care of my money; I would finally learn the value of a dollar when I was paying for my own things, he said. I finally learned it when I saw how expensive an 8pk of Bounty paper towels was at Target.

"But they'll last you longer" said Sebastian. "Yeah, but $12 hurts!" I whimpered.

I don't have my savings earmarked for anything big- probably the reason why I'm depressed 80% of the time; I've got nothing big to look forward to in the near future really. No house, no car, no extravagant vacation and no kids either. But I'm glad that I'm not in debt. I've got one credit card balance of approx $1600 that I have to pay off before the 0% APR offer is over in Feb. 2010. So far, I've been able to take full advantage of my introductory offers on the American Express (0% APR for 15 months) and Bank of America (0% for 12 months.) I played it safe and paid my balances in full at the end of the month. When I moved out, I started charging most of my purchases on my Discover (0% for 12 months) knowing full well I would pay it off when the offer was over. I was doing it for the cashback incentive. 

I'm responsible when it comes to money. I've managed my father's business and personal finances, and I have never once in my life bounced a single check or overdrafted on my accounts.

Well, there was that one $2.88 purchase at Starbucks that I made from the wrong account when I was 18 years old- the account that was empty. But at the time, WAMU was very understanding and in touch with their customers' needs. I never paid an overdraft fee.

I have good credit history also; I started out when I was 18 and today, I have a good FICO score. I've only been hit with identity theft once, and luckily, I caught it and took care of it right away. I check my credit reports and my dad's every 4 months from Equifax, Experian and Transunion for free. So far, I haven't come across any black marks. I have too much available credit than I know what to do with. It's merely there for catastrophes. I have enough in savings to take care of emergencies at the moment, thank God. I request my credit line to be increased every so often to create a bigger gap between percentage owed.

I am a frugalista. I was a bit bummed out the other day when I went to the store and didn't see anything that I needed to buy. I had everything taken care of. I've saved more money in the past year than I did since I started working. And the reason why?

I lived with my parents until I got too old. I didn't have a rent to pay, or groceries to buy; I babysat my sisters in return. So all the money I was making, I was spending on my own personal affairs or going into the bank. I don't make that much money either; I make 28k. When I thought about finally taking the leap out of the nest, I started buckling down and stopped shopping out of habit when I was bored. It became a competition with myself. I had to distinguish the difference between want and need. I've taught Sebastian how to do it, and as a result, walked away from buying a brand new car.(His Tercel started working again, and after asking me for the umpteenth time as to what I'd recommend him doing, I simply stated that I personally felt it was a better choice to pay off his debt completely from his previous marriage before thinking of buying a car. Once the debt is paid off, I suggested he continue putting the same amount of money in a savings account until the car finally gave out. At that time, he would have accumulated money for a bigger down payment)

It hurts me when a friend is in financial trouble. Then I see their 42" Plasma TV, or their Armani and Dolce & Gabbana wardrobe in the closet, and realize they put wants over needs first. I wish I could help them, but I don't want to mix money and friends. I did it once, and though I was lucky and got the money back after a few months, she wasn't too happy when she asked to borrow a bigger sum and I drew up a promissory note.

Only lend what you can afford to lose.

I shop at Target, and sometimes at Ross. Sometimes, I even shop at the thrift store. I find new looking clothes and purses and get really excited when I pay a fraction of what it would cost brand new. I give my clothes too. It's a circle that keeps it going. My favorite purse was $5 from the Thrift Store. It's starting to wear out.

I buy the bare necessities. I don't buy snacks- it's easier on the waistband that way. And when I'm bored at home I watch TV, write, or call a friend. I haven't bothered to sign up for internet yet. I've got a school campus around the corner, so if I need the internet, it's a short drive away. Impulse buys are the worst, but I can control myself. If I'm in the mood for a smoothie on the way home from work, I stop myself and remember that I have frozen fruit and apple juice at home to make it myself. It saves me $4 every time I drive by Jamba Juice. That's why I spent $30 for a good blender. (Sebastian taught me that too)

When I'm at the store and I see something pretty, the first thought that enters my mind is "Where am I going to put it?" If I don't find a spot for it, I realize I don't need it. My place is simple and doesn't have too much furniture. I decided not to buy a bookcase for my living room because I didn't want to spend the $55 at Ikea. I organized all my DVDs and books in a way that was "modern" and efficient. I didn't buy a dining table for $100 either because I didn't really need it or want it. It's just me at home, and if I invite someone over, we're most likely not going to eat there because I don't cook.

 I eat on the floor on a tiny "coffee table" taken from leftover pieces of an old dresser that Sebastian was going to throw out. And I took a wine rack that I had previously given to my dad. He didn't use it once. I now use it to store my magazines. And a couple of wine bottles as well......

Having a small space cuts down on the amount of furniture I have to buy, and I'm glad. Sebastian and BEG have both told me how much they like my new place. I've organized it in a way that is cozy and isn't cluttered. Everything has its place. My wall decorations are pictures my sisters have drawn out which I have placed in simple black frames, and my own black and white photographs I took of them when I was in school.

 I have medical bills from a procedure, and it's taking me until September 2010 to pay it off. I plan to take advantage of the 0% APR on that as well and make all my payments on time. I drive my 2000 ProtegĂ© , and am not considering to trade up. I've recently started clipping coupons, and though it takes some time getting used to, I get very excited when I can save $1 on toilet paper- something I need to get anyway.

I stopped going to the salon to get my nails done this year. Now, I do them myself. It beats spending about $40 a month. It's very time consuming doing it myself, but people notice the nice work. All the guys I've dated have complimented me on it. Who thought guys could notice that kind of stuff? Plus, it's a lot more sanitary than the parlor. My mom got a fungus on her toes because they don't disinfect their tubs. Naaasty!

I buy off-brand when it comes to certain food items and apparel. I'll wait for a book to be in publication for a while before I buy it used online. I do the same for series on DVD- I buy it at Best Buys when the show is on the 4th season on TV, and then I try to resell on Amazon when I'm done with it. I listen to music on Pandora and LastFm for free online. I'm always on schedule with my credit card payments. One late payment and I'd have to pay the entire interest I've accumulated since the purchase.

I will be enrolling at the University of Houston in the spring where I'll most likely start to experience the money crunch. I will be majoring in Accounting and minoring in Spanish.


  1. When I was first divorced, I got rid of all the excess junk and learned to live frugally. I paid off all debt and worked two jobs to set aside money so that when this car breaks down someday, I'll be able to pay cash for the next one. I now have that savings in place. I shop on eBay a LOT or at a place called Plato's Closet, that sells used clothing. I even found a beautiful leather coat at the Goodwill in the rich area of town.

  2. I've heard of Plato's closet, but have never actually gone. I hear their commercials all the time too. I'm tempted to trek out this weekend, though not too much considering I don't really need anything at this particular time. Thanks for the reminder!!