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Want to Save Money? Ditch Cable

Want to Save Money? Ditch Cable

I’ll give you a little bit of backstory about how I’m a madwoman that enjoys paying hundreds for nothing. I moved into my house at the end of 2011. I didn’t have tv for months until finally I broke down and got DirecTV. It was dirt cheap to begin with because that’s how they get you! I was happily going along paying $30 a month for a while, then I was all of a sudden paying $180. So what did I do? I paid it. For a while.

And by a while I mean like two years. And then I called them and said hey, I’m going to switch unless you lower my bill. They told me they couldn’t do anything, and I switched to cable. I was able to get my internet and tv (and phone which I paid for without ever even owning a house phone) for the $180.

Once I called to cancel, DirecTV was more than willing to lower my bill. They had their shot and blew it, I was definitely switching. In fact three years later it still steams me!

Anyways, back to cable. I had cable for about two years when lo and behold, my payment amount increases to $250. We’ve already gone over the me being pretty cheap thing, so you can imagine I just about fell out of my chair when I opened the bill.

I immediately started looking for alternatives. DirecTV was out because I was still carrying that grudge against them. And honestly I think it’s crazy companies screw us over because it’s a hassle to switch. It irks me to say the least. And I’m not about to be apart of their nonsense.

Then it hit me. Why do I need to pay so much for live tv? I barely watch it. I spend most of my time on Netflix or Hulu and only used the cable for two things 1) Mets and Jets games. Because a girl needs to watch her teams and suffer. 2) To watch ID (Investigation Discovery) before bed. I don’t know what it is but true crime is my favorite thing to fall asleep to. 

The true crime wasn’t an issue. The Netflix options may not be as good as ID but they would do. Same premise and besides, I’m only falling asleep to it anyways.

However, not being able to watch Mets or Jets games would be an issue. My boyfriend is also a fan of the same teams. We’re big fans. Not casual by any means and certainly not willing to give up access to games. I considered MLB.TV, because if I’m being honest the Mets are more important to me than the Jets (sorry Gang Green). If I had to ditch one, it’s the Jets. I mean they’re equally as bad for the most part but baseball has always been and will always be my great love. Good news (or bad) for me, Mike feels the same way.

MLB.TV starts at $91.99 a year. Not awful but it only solved one of my problems. Jets games would be a thing of the past. I was willing to do it but I wouldn’t do it without a fight. My next move was to see what else was out there. I had no idea going into all of this, but there are several alternatives to expensive cable packages.

Here are the alternatives options I found and considered:

Source: Netflix

Netflix - I love Netflix. It didn’t solve our sports problems but it does make up the majority of our tv watching. Besides old favorites like Friends, Netflix has a ton of original programming that’s just downright good. Full disclosure - we’re currently in the middle of a Grace & Frankie marathon and I’m in love with Netflix for making the show. I also strongly recommend Love Sick, American Vandal and 13 Reasons Why. All. So. Good. Best of all, Netflix starts at only $8.99 a month.

Hulu - If Netflix isn’t on in my house, it’s a safe bet Hulu is. Hulu is a great way to catch up on all the current shows that you might miss by saying goodbye to live tv. Additionally, Hulu offers originals such as the Handmaid's Tale and 11.22.63. A regular Hulu account is $7.99 a month. But, Hulu has a second option! Hulu offers live tv for $39.99 a month!

Hulu + Live TV included all of the sports channels that we had wanted and since we liked Hulu to begin with, we made the switch. Check out the available channels in your area here.

Source: Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Video - I’m not an Amazon Prime subscriber. I’m too cheap to pay for the membership since I don’t order much from Amazon. However, my dad is. And he raves about Amazon Prime Video. They have a good selection of old favorites and original content. I haven’t watched any of the original content but my dad has tried to push the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Z: The Beginning of Everything like crazy on me. But that’s because my dad knows me and the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has ties to my hometown which I would obviously dig and I’ve been slightly in love and most definitely fascinated with Fitzgerald since I was forced to read the Great Gatsby in eleventh grade. So even though I haven’t seen them yet, Amazon is pretty ok in my book. And since my dad gives his seal of approval - I know it’s a solid choice. At $119 a year, the price sure beats the heck out of cable too.

Source: Crackle

Crackle - I first heard about Crackle back in 2015 because I was spending a lot of time away from home and trying to entertain myself. Crackle is owned by Sony and is 100% free streaming. And let me tell you, my how the game has changed since I spent hours watching Blue Mountain State. There are some way better options on Crackle now days like the Bourne Ultimatum, Seinfeld and Superbad. Crackle is also now offering original content. I haven’t watched any of it yet but Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser is definitely on my to watch list.

Sling - Sling offers live tv at perhaps the best price. Sling offers two different packages at $25 a month so you can pick which one works best for you. Best of all, they include channels you might actually watch like ID, ESPN, HGTV and TBS. The upgraded package is $40 a month and gives you all of the available channels. The downside to Sling is a lack of sports channels. We wouldn’t be able to watch Mets games.

DirecTV Now - I know, I know. I said I wouldn’t ever go back but I did consider DirecTV’s live streaming service for a little while before I decided on Hulu + Live TV. DirecTV offers a few different packages (including ID!) ranging from $40-$75 per month. Even the most basic package comes with over 65 channels. And they offer the oh so important sports channels. Ultimately, my grudge and a sweet Swagbucks cash back offer swayed me to go with Hulu. But DirecTV Now does offer a DVR option which is nice.

If you want more options or you’re craving an in-depth review of each, check out TechHive’s review of all streaming services. Whatever you choose to do, I’m sure you’ll be happy with all the money you save by getting rid of that ginormous cable bill.

I know I made the right choice. For how little we watch live tv, I was certainly willing to make some sacrifices!

Have you considered switching over to just streaming options? Have you already? Are you happy you cut the cord or do you miss cable?
Read more »
Broke Dolly

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How to Save Big at JC Penney

How to Save Big at JC Penney

Oh, JC Penney. Your grandmother’s department store. Everyone’s grandmother’s department store. That’s now struggling to survive and avoid the same fate of Sear’s.

JC Penney has been a company I’ve followed for quite some time because I’m morbid and am just waiting for it’s impending demise. Just kidding. I’m actually rooting for them. They’re a mall staple. I even think they can turn it around. Or at least I thought they could. Now JCP stock is hovering around $1 and the future looks bleak. But the future has looked bleak from the start of the Great Recession - 11 years ago.

And it’s been interesting to watch. Somehow just when you think the company is done they do something crazy - like hire Apple retail guru Ron Johnson to revamp everything and change the breed of the department store. Then before they see results they give him the pink slip. Now it looks like Johnson had the right idea. Hindsight really is 20/20.

Besides just hoping they avoid retail doom, I like Penney’s (as everyone I know for some reason calls it. Maybe it’s an upstate NY thing? Or maybe we just like to make ish up?) I’ve gone through phases where I don’t like Penney’s and end up walking right by, but then I get drawn in again. Mostly for clothes. Because no matter what, they always have clothes that are just right and they’re usually on sale.

So let’s talk about getting a good deal at JC Penney. Because they’re more than willing to give you one and they need our help!

According to my idol, the Krazy Coupon Lady, JCP marks down their merchandise on the first and third Fridays of each month. Weekends are typically when the biggest sales happen including “Super Saturday” sales and doorbusters.

Another big sale? JCP’s Black Friday sale. One thing I’m always looking for on Black Friday is new boots and Penney’s always comes through with a ton of $19.99 options.

As always, check the clearance sections! An item that has reached final clearance will have a pink price tag. Like Macy’s Last Act sections, the clearance section is the best place to find a good deal. Unlike Macy’s Last Act items, Penney’s lets you use coupons on their clearance items.

My last JCP purchase

The last time I bought something at Penney's was last September. I purchased the two pairs of shoes above for $10.90. Both pairs were on clearance. Which was a good deal to begin with but then clearance items were an additional 50% off. I can't walk away from $5 shoes! I know what you're thinking about those funky boat shoes - they're kind of hideous - but I will be super patriotic on the 4th! I love funky shoes. They were a perfect match for me.

Ironically, coupons was something Johnson wanted to do away with. Rather than markup the product and offer coupons, Johnson wanted to have a more transparent pricing strategy and start off by offering the lower price. It was a no nonsense idea, and honestly it was a good one.

Ah, but what is done is done. So how do you get those coupons you'll need?

Sign up for JCP Rewards. For every $200 spent you’ll get a $10 off any purchase reward. If you have a Penney’s card, you’ll earn rewards twice as fast, for every $100 spent you’ll get a $10 off any purchase reward. Full disclosure here: I absolutely hate store cards and would never recommend opening one.

Take the survey on the bottom of your receipt. Just about every store offers you something for telling them how they did, including JCP. The survey info will be on the bottom of your receipt. Just complete the online survey and you'll receive a 10% off coupon.

The old fashioned way - check your local newspaper. Friday newspapers will often include a JCP circular with $10 off a $50 purchase or $15 off a $75 purchase coupons.

Join the mailing list. Sign up for emails to get a 25% off coupon. I totally get it if paper coupons aren’t your thing. They’re not mine either. But make sure to check for a coupon code before buying anything online or in the store. Penney’s is cool enough to even post their coupons on the main page of their website.

And don’t forget about price matching! JCP has “Our Lowest Price Guarantee,” meaning they’ll match a competitor’s price before you purchase or within 14 days of purchase. Or they’ll match their own online price. For the love, why do stores do that? Just give us the lower price, don’t screw us over for going to your brick and mortar store. Unfortunately, Sephora is not included in the price matching.

And one final bit of wisdom from the Krazy Coupon Lady, the best things to buy at Penney’s are linens, jackets, bras and boots. I told you I’ve gotten some great deals on boots from JCP in the past!

The worst things to buy? Specific brands like Nike, Converse, Colombia, Disney and Levi’s among others. Why? Because JCP excludes these brands from coupon use. You can see a full list of brands here.

What do you think about JCP? Are you a fan or do you walk right on by? Do you know of any other ways to score a good deal? I’d love to hear all about it!
Read more »
Broke Dolly

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Goodbye Old Friend: the Death of CashCrate

Goodbye Old Friend: the Death of CashCrate

About a month ago I wrote my post about how you can make money online. Included on that list was an old favorite of mine - CashCrate.

I’ve had a CashCrate account forever. I mean, years and years. It might have been the first rewards program I ever joined. Since then I’ve tried just about every app and website that rewards or pays for everything from traveling to watching tv. If I actually wrote out the list there would be a laughable amount of things companies have gathered information on me for. I suppose I’m willing to give away all my secrets for the promise of a few gift cards.

Earlier this week, my mother called me with the sad news. CashCrate is closing up shop. Or in my mother’s words, “CashCrate is no more.” Since my mother has a tendency to overreact and embellish I thought maybe she had skipped over the details of revamping the site or something to that effect.

And yes, I recommended CashCrate to my mother. She also has a tendency to sign up for all of these apps and sites. I guess I had to have gotten it from somewhere. It certainly wasn’t from my father who greets our enthusiasm over these sites with an eye-roll. Surprisingly, my mother and I often differ in our opinion over just which one is the best but CashCrate has always been one we both consistently liked.

Unfortunately, my mother was right (I’m sure she’ll be glad to see that in writing!) When I logged into my CashCrate account I was greeted with a banner telling me it’s officially over. The company announced they will no longer be accepting new registrations and the program will close down completely on March 31st. After years together (I gave you almost all of my twenties CashCrate!), CashCrate is recommending I find someone new to send me checks. They even compiled a list of their recommended replacements. Don’t get me wrong, I might be sad, but I will definitely be checking out that list.

A sneak peek at the replacement list

If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t used CashCrate actively in quite some time. I haven’t completed an offer in forever and I can’t remember the last time I filled out a survey for them that actually credited. But I would still check in everyday for the $.03 they offered. They’d mail me a check when I reached $20 and I had no complaints.

I know, CashCrate really isn’t abandoning me. I abandoned it. I found another rewards site that had more options. Ironically, a rewards site that CashCrate paid me to sign up for - Swagbucks. Swagbucks just ended up offering more ways to make a little extra cash and eventually I stopped trying to earn seriously on CashCrate. But I never thought the option to go back would be gone. I am genuinely a little sad. And guilty. I was obviously part of the problem.

There is a slight silver lining here. CashCrate has partnered with SwagBucks! CashCrate members who are not already on Swagbucks can join through the link on CashCrate and earn $20 in Swagbuck bonuses. If you’re not a member of either site, it looks like using CashCrates signup link will earn you $15 in Swagbuck bonuses.

CashCrate's Swagbucks offer

And as you already know, I’m a fan of Swagbucks. Definitely join if you’re looking for a site that can give you a little extra income. Besides the fact that it really is a good site (CashCrate did me proud in their partnering up!), earning $15-$20 right off the bat is a nice perk!

So RIP CashCrate (2006-2019). 13 years was a good run. I wish you stuck around a little longer but I get it. I’ll always remember you fondly.

Is anyone else sad to see CashCrate go? Or did you abandon it for another site along the way like I did? What site do you use or will you use now?
Read more »
Broke Dolly

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How to Turn Receipts Into Cash: Receipt Pal

How to Turn Receipts Into Cash: Receipt Pal

A while back I wrote about all of the websites and apps I use to make money online. Then, I showed you how to make money by walking into stores with Shopkick.

Today, let’s talk about another one of my go-too apps: Receipt Pal. Receipt Pal is a great little way to earn some money for uploading receipts. And best of all, it’s really, really simple to use!

Receipt Pal gives you 100 points for every four receipts you upload. When you login to the app you’ll see your three “receipt cards” to be filled. Each card has four boxes and is worth 100 points once filled.

New cards are opened up every Sunday. If you completed all three cards the following week you will receive three new ones. If you were slacking and didn’t fill all three (or for some reason you don’t get twelve receipts somehow), you’ll get four cards. Depending on how many receipts you uploaded the previous week your fourth card may be partially full. What I mean by that is, if you uploaded 11 receipts the prior week and were only missing one for the third card, that third card will be your fourth card the next week and your receipts from last week will still be there. It's nice to not lose progress!

Of course, if you're like me 12 receipts is nothing. I'm sure I have that many randomly thrown in my bag right now.

The blue boxes with a little camera mean they’re open to upload a receipt. Once uploaded, the blue box will turn into the lighter green box with a timer - that means your receipt was successfully uploaded and is being processed. Once accepted, the box will turn into the darker green box with a check. Four checks on a card means 100 points!

One of my favorite things about Receipt Pal is all receipts are accepted! Whereas some receipt apps can be selective (for example, not accepting gas receipts), Receipt Pal will give you the same amount of points for all purchase amounts regardless of where you spent the money. A receipt, is a receipt, is a receipt, when it comes to this app!

Another benefit: link your email and you’ll receive credit for all online purchases. As you can see, I even received credit for my student loan payments!

Linking up your email provides one more benefit. Every receipt you upload gives you an entry into a weekly sweepstakes for $250. Receipt cards full? No problem, each receipt still gives you another entry into the sweepstakes. The drawing is every Monday. I wish you luck! I've been dying to win that $250 but unfortunately my luck isn't so hot.

Just be careful with the timer boxes. Just because you uploaded a receipt doesn’t mean Receipt Pal will accept it! A few words of caution:

1) Make sure your receipt image is clear and readable before you submit it. Blurry receipts are rejected.

2) Submit your receipts within three days of purchase. Older receipts will be rejected.

3) Make sure the store name and date is visible on your receipt upload. If not, you guessed it, the receipt will he rejected.

That’s it! Really, it is that simple!

Now that you know all about the how-to, let’s talk about the why.

Receipt Pal rewards aren’t too shabby. You know me, I’m a little upset they don’t offer cash that could go towards my debt but they do offer gift cards that I can use!

Redemption starts out at just 400 points (that’s only 16 receipts!) for a $1 Amazon gift card. 26,000 points will get you a $100 Amazon gift card but if that seems too daunting, there are options in between.

My most cashed out option? 7,500 points for a gift card to Home Depot or Target. Other options include Amazon (hm, I see a theme here), Lowe’s, Visa, Best Buy, WalMart, Regal Cinemas and iTunes.

I downloaded Receipt Pal back in 2014 and have since earned $225. That's $45 a year for minimal effort. Not too bad for just snapping a picture of my receipts!

How great is it to get free gift cards just for taking pictures of your receipts?! Do you use Receipt Pal? What do you think of it?  If not, do you use another receipt app I should try?
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Broke Dolly

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FIRE? The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

FIRE? The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

I’m sure by now we’ve all heard of the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement. If you haven’t, let me fill you in quickly. FIRE encourages spending less (yay!) and saving move (like up to 70% of your salary more, yikes!) so you can grow your investment accounts and retire early by living off small withdrawals from said investment accounts. So basically the idea is like a 401k on speed.

Not to be confused with the unfortunate Fyre Festival. If you haven’t watched the documentary on Netflix - do it. You’ll probably feel a lot better about your own spending habits afterwards. Like how do these people have so much money to spend on concert tickets? I feel guilty after spending $100 on a piece of furniture I’ll be looking at for the next few decades. More power to them I guess. Maybe I’m just jealous.

I digress, back to the real topic.

Don’t get me wrong. The idea of FIRE is great. Everyone should strive for financial independence. And retiring early is a great goal. But when I think of retiring early I think 60, not 30.

How I envision retirement will look

Let's be real for a second. I’m going to be 30 in seven months. I wouldn’t dream of giving up my job and relying on my retirement savings that early. It’s absolutely nuts to me. I mean, assuming I live as long as my grandparents (hopefully anyways!), I’d be looking at making my savings last 57 years. What really puts that in perspective for me is that my grandparents were married 57 years before my grandfather died, he wouldn’t have worked a single day of their married life.

Another dilemma I see with FIRE is children. I’m 29 with no kids but the idea of having them someday makes me think I need to rev up for some serious earning during my 30s. Kids are expensive - like a quarter million dollars expensive. Knowing that, there’s no way I’m walking away from my day job just yet. And by that I mean until the youngest is graduated from college.

So I’m against the idea of retiring at 30 but there are some good things coming from the FIRE movement. It’s encouraging people to take a look at their finances and actually plan for retirement. Which is a great thing considering 31% of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement. That’s an issue. I know it’s hard to think about the future. Especially when you’re young and it seems so far away but it’s silly not to. Even if you start out small, take the first step.

Need a few reasons to push you in the right direction? No problem, I got ‘em.

1) Employer matching. Your employer may match your contributions to a retirement account up to a certain percentage of your salary. Not contributing means you’re leaving free money on the table. Don’t do that. Take the money your employer is offering.

2) Compound interest. Compound interest means your money is making you money - you earn interest on interest you earned from your initial investment. I’m sure you’re saying to yourself but it’s not going to make much of a difference right? Wrong! Let me give you an example.

Say you’re planning on retiring at 65. If you and your employer each contribute $100 a month into your account (see, starting small!) from the time you’re 20 until the time you retire you would have contributed $54,000 and your employer would have contributed another $54,000 for a total of $108,000. Not bad! But assuming you earn 5% per year on your money (which is low considering the average stock market return is 10% but we’ll be conservative), your money would have grown to $407,000. Almost quadruple what you and your employer put in! And over seven times your own contributions!

If we assume all of the same conditions expect you waited ten years until you were 30 to start worrying about retirement, your contributions shrink to $42,000. Your employer matches your $42,000 and you’ll have $84,000. Compound interest makes that figure $228,000. You missed out on over $170,000. And it only would have cost you $50 a paycheck.

Believe me, I know $50 is $50 more than anyone but you’ll eventually get used to not having it. I promise, the pain is temporary, forgo the Starbucks trips and expensive dinners out for the greater good of retirement.

Moral of the story: open up your retirement account and contribute what you can, even if it’s not much. Even a little makes a difference. Seriously, stop reading this and fill out the forms.

3) Tax benefits. Contributions to a 401k or traditional IRA are pre-tax. Meaning you don’t pay tax on them until you retire. Since most people are in a higher tax bracket while they’re working, you’ll end up paying less tax on that money come retirement time.

But, retiring at 30 does sound pretty good doesn’t it? I mean, all the free time you’ll have! You can do all those things you’ve always wanted to do! Unfortunately, all the things I really want to do - like travel - cost money, but never mind that for now.

Let’s take a closer look at the FIRE method’s Five Steps to Financial Independence:

1) Change the way you think about money. As the article says, “money only matters if it helps you live a life you love.” Hey, I’m all for being happy. But I think retirement is a little bit misleading here. The FIRE method doesn’t necessarily consider retiring in the traditional sense. Retirement, in this case, is about feeling free and doing what you love. Which might just be your day job. But you’d be financially independent and not need that day job. Retirement might not be the best word but I get it, save money now so you can quit your boring day job and live on dividends while you write your travel blog. I can dig it.

2) Calculate what you need to retire. Ok, we’re sticking with this retire thing I guess. This is solid advice. No matter what age you’re planning on retiring make sure you have enough money to be able to withdraw what you’ll need.

3) Reduce expenses to ramp up savings. The article suggests cutting expenses in housing, transportation and food because the average American spends 70% of their income on these expenses. I mean, for good reason. We need to live somewhere, we need to get to work and, oh yeah, we should probably eat while we’re at it. But these expenses can definitely be trimmed. Make meals at home rather than eating out, get yourself a roommate or maybe skip the subway for a nice bike ride. I have no problem with the trimming of expenses, it’s a good idea. But saving the recommended 50% of my aftertax income would be a challenge.

4) Increase your income. The article recommends turning a hobby or skill into an additional revenue stream. In my experience hobbies tend to cost more money than they save but if you have a profitable hobby, I’m happy for you.

5) Invest aggressively. Someone young can weather some downturns in the market. But, investing aggressively could mean you lose a ton of money too. That’s why financial planners recommend your investments get more conservative as you near retirement. If you have a short timeline aggressive investments could help or hinder your retirement goals.

Overall, FIRE is all about spending less and saving more. Saving so much that you would be able to live off of it for the next 50 or so years.

If you want to see some of the ways FIRE has backfired on people, check out how these people adjusted to their failed FIRE plans.

Do I think FIRE is a horrible idea? Definitely not. I’m dying to be financially independent. That’s what all of this is all about. And I think anything that encourages that is important. People don’t talk about money or retirement enough, if FIRE gets some conversations started I think that’s awesome.

Will I be retiring at 30? Absolutely not. I like my day job and they pay me well to do something I enjoy. Could it be better? Of course. There are days that I’m ready to wring someone’s neck. As of now, those days are few and far between so I can stick it out. And while I’m working I’m going to strive to pay off all of my debt, contribute to my retirement savings (all savings for that matter) and prepare to spend money on whatever may pop up. Because life happens and sometimes it’s expensive.

What I would caution anyone planning to use FIRE is to please be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t cut it close, bulk up your savings and be ready for everything and anything you think might throw a wrench into your financial plans.
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Broke Dolly

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Monthly Progress Report (#2)

Monthly Progress Report (#2)

I feel like it’s been ages since I got to really take a look at the progress I made! It’s only been a month but what can I say? I’m excited. I’ve been looking forward to this post since I wrote my initial progress report.

Even though, realistically, I didn’t make all that much progress towards my goals, I made some. And I’m going to celebrate any success no matter how big or small.

We’re now one whole month in, here’s the breakdown of my debt:

Mortgage: $149,600
Car Loan: $9,200
Student Loans: $4,700
Credit Cards: $3,200
Grand Total of Debt: $166,700

My student loan balances

Oh, yeah, let’s not forget the goof I made estimating the amount of money I would need for my home renovations!

Renovation fund requirement: $2,900
New Grand Total of Debt: $169,600

Last month that number was $170,900. Let me tell you, it feels dang good to change that 7 to a 6. I paid off $1,300 in a month. I honestly didn’t know if this number was going to go down much at all, but $1,300 is progress I can be proud of!

Now, let’s take a look at the savings side of things.

Savings account: $2,000
P2P Lending account: $300
Investment account: $100
Grand Total of Savings: $2,400

Admittedly, progress on the savings front wasn’t so great. I increased my savings $150 over the month. I can certainly do better than that but to tell you the truth, as my start date for renovations nears I’m focusing heavily on eliminating the renovation shortage. Hopefully once I clean up that mess I made, I can concentrate more efforts to bulking up my emergency fund.

Whatever you do, don’t do what I did and short yourself. Believe me, it’s just totally unnecessary stress. Stress that is now amplified because I made the first deposit on my renovations yesterday. Don’t get me wrong I’m super excited but I’m also super nervous I won’t be able to find $2,900 in my budget over the next several months.

I’m certainly hoping that February is another successful month. Overall, $1,500 went to improving my financial health during the month of January. Gosh, that feels so good to say! $1,500! If I needed any encouragement to stick to it, this post certainly gave me all the encouragement I needed and then some.

Debt, get ready, I’m coming for you.
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Broke Dolly

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Adventures in Christmas Shopping: A Cure for Winter Blues

Adventures in Christmas Shopping: A Cure for Winter Blues

I’ve been busy the past few days trying to spruce up this place. I’m going to fake it until I make it with image editing. Wish me luck, I’ve got a lot to learn! I know I’ll have a little bit of an uphill battle with all that and going back and redoing old images over the next few days. I don’t know if that’s OCD or smart, but I’m going to be happy with better -and prettier- images either way!

Today, we're buried under eight inches of snow so I figured it was a good time to finally sit down and write this post (in between some photo editing).

I did still go shopping on Saturday. Tara and I actually did some pretty serious shopping, I was gone from noon until almost midnight. I just love shopping. Retail therapy is just what I needed to get out of the winter rut I always find myself in after the holidays.

If you remember I had three things on my list: puzzles, cologne and yellow towels.

Here’s the roundup of what we got up to and how much I spent:

First stop: Dunkin Donuts. Coffee for Tara and food for me. Total: $7.97.

This time our first stop was Marshall’s. I didn’t buy anything but there were two items I wanted to buy. 1) An alpaca planter. I know that’s weird. But my elephant planter broke (RIP Edgar) and I can’t seem to find anything as cool as Edgar was. This planter was close (maybe slightly Christmas themed but not enough to prevent me using it the summer) and he was only $8.50! 2) A new shower rack (I honestly have no idea what it’s called but you know those things that hang off the shower head and hold your shampoo and what not? That’s it!) in a pretty mint green. It was perfect to replace the old beat up one in my guest bath. But I felt guilty since both items were for me and it was only the first store. So I figured I would come back for them if I was doing well towards the end of the day. Meaning if I bought some Christmas presents like I intended and wasn’t too broke. Another cool thing I saw at Marshall’s that made the maybe Christmas list was a pair of suspenders and bow tie set for $15. I’ve never seen my boyfriend rock either but I think he would and they were pretty dope. I guess I just wasn’t ready to really commit to anything.

Next up was HomeGoods. I was on the hunt for yellow towels, the one thing I felt ok buying myself. Because I justified it by putting it on my list Friday night. There was some forethought so that makes it ok, right? There were some really cool things in HomeGoods I was tempted by, like a neon green juicer for all the juice I don’t drink, aqua and teal cookie sheets (I didn’t know they made them in fun colors!) and a bluish garbage can that would match my kitchen perfectly (but $60 for a garbage can?! Is that really the going rate? Looks like I’ll be checking the clearance section the next time I go back). But none of those things were on my Friday night list, so I resisted the urge to buy everything in fun hues and stuck to my towel mission. The good news - they had yellow towels! Yellow DKNY towels! Nobody has ever been so excited to purchase towels before and I don’t think anyone ever will be again. But they were exactly what I wanted. Not only were they yellow and soft but they’re also giant! Seriously, why do they even make tiny little bath towels?

Yellow towels! Yay!

I purchased two bath towels and two hand towels for a total of $30.23. My towels weren’t on clearance or anything but I was ok with that. I mean I did leave an alpaca planter on the shelf for them so ya know, I sacrificed something. Well, that’s how I’m going to justify paying full price anyways. But is anything at HomeGoods really full price anyways?

After HomeGoods we made our way over to TJ Maxx. One thing I’ve noticed at all the stores is the clearance sections are starting to go back to normal after all the Christmas clearance items from last month have mostly cleared out. They did have some shoes in my size for $15. It was hard to walk away, an 11 is no easy task to come by on clearance shoe racks, but I have about 400 pairs of shoes already. I didn’t need them and I walked away. This spending less money thing is hard! But my willpower is a little stronger than I had originally thought, I saw results this first month (which I’ll share with you soon!) and the progress feels better than owning another pair of shoes that’ll mostly just sit in my closet. I did however make one purchase - cologne. Two purchases and two items checked off my list! Total spent at TJ Maxx: $16.21.

We then hit the mall and made our way through Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Tara bought a few things but I was more than happy to window shop. I did want to go to Target but I was getting hungry (again!) so we skipped it and made our way over to the other side of town for food and Old Navy. I wasn’t planning on going into Old Navy when we left in the morning but they had a crazy sale going on. I mean everything was on sale and clearance was an extra 40% off. If anything will draw me in to a store it’s a sign advertising such and such off clearance items.

I have to admit I spent a little more in Old Navy than I had anticipated. Ok, a lot more. But to be fair, I got some really really good deals. The shameful part of it all was that I spent $20 on a yellow hoodie when I already have more hoodies than most people have underwear. But I also spent $1.97 on a cute pair of leftover Christmas sweatpants (I have no shame, I’ll rock them year round - they have flamingos on them and flamingos scream summer! Even in Santa hats!). I scored a polka dot cardigan for work for $2.08. I also grabbed two work shirts for Mike for $7.49 each. Then I broke down and I bought two of the sweaters I had been eyeing last time for Christmas. Only this time they had them in the right colors. Is a hunter green sweater worth $15? No. Is teal or lavender? Absolutely.
Sorry, no picture of Mike’s shirts, I wasn’t quick enough and he already has one on. I spent $71.07. Definitely more than I wanted to spend but $50 was for the hoodie (you know, the one I didn’t need) and the sweaters. At least some Christmas gifts were purchased. I guess I still have a little work to do on that willpower thing. But who does have the willpower to walk away from $2 shirts? That person must be a myth. If not, I want to meet them because I'm gonna need some emotional support if I start walking away from sales like that.

After all that shopping I was starving. Once we packed all of our Old Navy stuff in the car, Tara and I finally grabbed some food. We split the bill (she ended up paying more, so we almost split the bill I guess) and my portion was $16.

I wanted to go back to Marshall’s but by the time we were done with dinner Marshall’s was closed. Instead we headed to Kohl’s (since we now know they're open late!) Kohl’s still isn’t my favorite store but I do have to admit you can find a bargain in there. Tara and I scoured the sale racks and I found the last item on my list - a puzzle! How good does it feel to check off all three of the items on my Friday night game plan list? Oh. So. Good. It makes me feel almost organized. But not quite.

So many Christmas gifts!

I also found some pretty neat books over on the clearance racks! Everything I bought is actually for Christmas too. It feels so good to be making some headway for Christmas 2019. The total damage at Kohl's came out to $23.78. My total savings was $78.00. Kohl's might just win me over yet.

Total for the day: $165.26. Yikes, more than I wanted to spend but the good news is that I got a few different things for a few different people. If Old Navy wasn't practically giving stuff away I would have done better.

Total for Christmas 2019: $254.16.

Tara and I are planning our next shopping excursion in the beginning of March. Hopefully all this snow will be done by then. We have a few different options a little bit further away so when the weather gets nicer we'll be checking them out. Believe me, I cannot wait for summer weather. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go shovel some more snow!
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