May 25, 2015

Mouse + cookie syndrome

Unlike the slippery slope argument, which is generally fallacious, my problem here is utterly logical.

After not buying clothes for almost a year, focusing solely on feeding the family and paying actually necessary bills, I got an itch to pick up one nice thing. We have a few events coming up and some of them are formal enough that my mom-capris and loose shirts wouldn’t pass muster.

(mom-capris: the same capris I had since before getting pregnant but only buttoning one of the buttons. Doubles as buffet capris.)

Despite my ban on buying any new dresses because how many dresses does a single human need, one dress that actually fits me wouldn’t be a bad idea since it is basically an all in one outfit. If I played my cards right, I could maybe find a dress that will fit me now AND work later if my size changes again. (Side grump: this is not a thing men have to worry about when they talk about growing the family.)

Naturally I still don’t want to actually GO shopping. You know, in a shop. This makes it difficult to figure out what size I am though. Instead I hit the internet and ordered multiple things in different sizes. My home is the most comfortable dressing room.

Having clicked order (twice), you’d think that was the end of Step One. It is, I suppose, as Step Two is trying everything on but there’s a nasty side effect of clicking Order: I got a thing. A thing? Yes, says my brain, a thing! What about these Other Things You Like? Turns into a staring contest.

A nicer lightweight bag.
A hair clip.
Some shirts.
A stand mixer.
A house.
…… No no and no!

Mind, this isn’t just an exercise in self deprivation. Not entirely. Some of these things may yet come home with me. Or that house may probably happen because terrible neighbors are terrible and Seamus would love a yard (think I can teach him to do yardwork?).

But the other stuff? I just know that over the years, I’ve bought my fair share of things that became clutter much more quickly that I anticipated which would then have to be purged and be a net loss. In fairness, I was younger, stupider, and even less stylish. Regardless, I’d rather not do that again and again and again. I’d also rather keep my money and use it on investments to grow our future free from regular jobs future. That is not the same as not wanting anything nice, though, and therein lies the problem. It’s all fine and dandy when I’m not buying anything at all. But once I do, the brain keeps on rolling: why not this? And also… this?

Then I have to burn some willpower telling it to SHUSH and NOPE.

This isn’t just me, right?

March 29, 2013

My devices vices

When I look around, it occurs to me that I have a techish problem. A plethora of devices and some strange habits to go with them.

I have:

2 PCs, one personal and one work, though the personal one gets impressed into work relatively frequently and is about to quit on me with a screen that’s been going black;

1 netbook;

1 tablet;

1 smartphone that drives me nuts w/how crap it is (Tmobile MyTouch).

Also no charger, since I managed to break mine a few months ago. PiC and I are sharing because I have (vice #1) this insane prejudice against buying replacement chargers since PiC’s “losing chargers since 2003” spree.

With some upcoming business travel, travel being kind of always the impetus for my realizing that broken down tech is probably going to be limpingly pathetic (vice #2), I panicked and shopped for a new phone and a pay as you go internet hotspot I’d meant to test.

The Phone

After some research and asking for recommendations from good friends, I decided that the Nexus 4 made sense.

Some specs

It’s a well-reviewed phone, though it has two major flaws in the eyes of the reviewers: lack of LTE and it seems to be built in such a way that you can’t use it on other carriers (T-mobile only, it doesn’t work with Sprint, Verizon or AT&T).

Major pluses:

it ships unlocked so theoretically I could change to being carrier-free with just a purchased SIM. (of course, not working on other major carriers is the drawback that sort of negates this a little)

it works internationally (as verified by a military friend overseas)

it has good expected battery life (maybe not quite as good as my original model iPhone but still more than 24 hours with use)

the OS looks to be user friendly and fast.

The price

It cost (ulp!) $380 after taxes and shipping direct from Google Play.

I had my reservations about the fact that they not only charge a 15% restocking fee, they charge MORE if you return a damaged phone. So you get punished if the phone arrives to you damaged??  Customer service, not so much Google.

Still they were $60-100 cheaper from GPlay than anywhere else so I bit that bullet after being two nerds for 2 days.

The phone plan

At the same time as the shopping, I dropped into a conversation with @singlema about our cell phone plans and how much we’re paying. We realized that Tmobile had these new Simple Choice plans that were MUCH cheaper for pretty much the same services.

+ Unlimited text / talk / data (first 500 MB at high speeds)
+ A Tmobile hotspot
+ $80
+ Applies to first two lines; additional lines for $10

A couple of our phones are still on contract this year, those will just lapse and carry on as contract-less phones.

The things that drive me crazy about T-Mobile:

– Until this year, they refused to allow fee-free line cancellation for my mom’s line despite the fact she’s been deceased for over a year.
– They had a password associated with my account that I did not set, could not remember, and prevented me from talking to the CSRs about anything on my account. And said that I couldn’t reset it in any way except by going into the store. Sheer insanity. Until I realized I was talking to incompetent people who didn’t know what they were doing and wouldn’t ask anyone. Even their twitter help insisted that you had to go into the store. MADNESS. I got the best CSR ever, Greg, who actually knew what to do to give me access after 3 very frustrating hours.
– Their idiotic voice response system kept resetting my own website password when I was calling to reset a password for another account.
– If you can’t remember your password and do the password reset, even entering the temporary password they give you counts against your number of allotted tries and locks you out for 24 hours (unless you call) (wasting more time). Thereby rendering the Forgot Your Password function totally useless.

I was ready to tear my hair out and I’m still hating on most of their customer service.

But I was able to change our plans from $140 before tax ($160) to a new plan for $100 before tax (guessing, $120?) for four lines. When the paperwork to cancel Mom’s line goes through, that’ll be $10 less.

It’ll take about ten months to offset my new phone. And another ten if PiC decides he wants the Nexus too.

The Hotspot

I’d been planning to try this hotspot thing to review on the blog but I was dawdling on the ordering it thing. Finally I realized that I had to order it if I was going to take it to work with me.  And lo, I ordered a day too late so that it’ll probably arrive when I’m already gone. And worse, the new T-mobile plan has this hotspot feature thing but I didn’t know about that when I ordered this device.  Rather annoying.

Still I suppose it’ll be worth trying, though I won’t truly need to have access for more than myself in the upcoming months.

Put me down for another $85.

The Computer

Please, oh please don’t make me research, buy and configure yet another computer.  There’s only so much patience in my life and it’s going to be severely taxed  by the above new stuff. Also, taxes. Because those need filing.

Perhaps my IT friend can take a look and magic up a few more months (years? heh) of life out of this machine.


:: What are your thoughts on devices that keep you plugged in?
:: Do you have anything good to say about the Nexus 4 that’ll make me feel better about paying nearly $400 for it?

April 13, 2012

Speaking of impulse control ….

TeacHer Finance’s attempts to find her frugal again had me laughing over my similar attempts to find my own sanity, financial and otherwise. 

I was just chastising myself the other night for craving some really lovely luggage as shared by Feather Factor here. That was after wanting to book a pricey Michelin star restaurant for a surprise for PiC. That plan was junked, btw, because it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation and he’d gone and bought himself concert tickets. Then there were sales. Lots of sales. Ignore. Never mind the new dog bed. Rental cars, hotel rooms, more travel for other obligations.

Clearly my brain’d gone, just back from a trip (pictures to come) where the cost of living was astronomical, I think my impulse control on spending and being sensible had just gone kaput. As usual, this mouse was fed a cookie and, and, and ….!

Anyway, I talked myself off that particular tower when I remembered what kind of traveler I really am: prone to dropping/tripping over/leaning on/pushing over things, going into dirty dusty outdoorsy or urban places, business traveling or back-to-home traveling, not glamorous destination vacationy traveling. That’s not the sort of person who has gorgeous luggage!  That’s the sort of person who stuffs up a duffel and a pack and rolls on out the door having forgotten two essential things. (Five, this last trip.)

Aspirationally I’d love to be that fabulously coiffed, trimmed traveler with the good shined up luggage, I mentally shop like Sarah (Paranoid Asteroid) but at the end of the day, we both know that, unless someone else is doing up my hair and scrubbing out the stains in my cargos that I just dumped PiC’s coffee all over, as you do before a five hour road trip, I’m not going anywhere as anyone’s pretty little lady.

Nor will I be any kind of a power careerist simply because I’m dressed to the nines. If I am. I’m doing well just to be not-terribly-mismatched during the work week but as that in itself is a chore, I often find myself reverting to trying to buy a sense of style and fashion through the insights of the petite fashion bloggers.

Admittedly, I might succumb to a sale this weekend for a staple piece or two but the best part of valor may really be to shut off the valve of spending entirely and not even try this halfhearted resistance. We all know it barely works on me.

Besides, I have bigger things to save for, like Comic-Con!

April 16, 2011

A rookie mistake: the petite chinos

A perhaps silent resolution on the subject of clothing has been breached.

After being introduced to the world of petite bloggers, I’ve continued to follow them fairly regularly, Alterations Needed, Jean at Extra Petite, to admire their forays into fashion, not to copy as I’d not quite be able to pull off for either PF or charismatic fortitude, but to learn from their self-editing and creativity.

As they’ve pointed out at time or two to a fairly clueless, probably troll, commenter, the offerings available to the petite community are limited and so what they share with each other is then taken across the petite blogosphere to become part of each woman’s own style.  It’s really fascinating how one piece of clothing can be worn so uniquely and well when someone has a sense of how to style oneself.

*looks at self*

This is not the case.  *waves hand*  Hereabouts.

Since entering this community, though I hadn’t much to share of my own, I had resolved to learn what I could and the first lesson was to stop buying clothes that almost fit or was close enough in regular sizes.  I’ve been really good about that.

The thing I’ve been total crap at is putting pieces of clothing together that don’t just say: BLAH.   This partly stems from lack of creativity and from buying clothes that look fine by themselves but having no vision of how to wear them in outfits.

It’s taken me all year to stop just wearing a standard uniform of: button down shirt, trousers, plus a sweater and flats. I’ve been practicing really really hard this past month to try and create outfits: combining different layers of shirts and blazers (I only own two with odd length sleeves).  For about two weeks, I did do a decent job with that.

But I’ve gone and done set myself up for failure again.

My shoes and I aren’t so fashion-forward. And the pants aren’t actually long enough to do THAT.

I needed a pair of more casual pants for the weekend that weren’t jeans.

When J.Crew had their chinos on sale, knowing that I wanted something practical, I ordered some to try on for size.  They’re practical, durable material.  They’re like workman pants. I can do home reno projects in them, I bet.

But they’re straight, almost tapered leg, hit me just above the ankle so I can only wear them with maybe .. flats?  Certainly not my sneakers which are few inches off the ground. These’d look like high waters.  And they gap in the back a few inches (hello memories of regular sizing!)

Hm. I really want to keep them but I think this sounds like it should be returned, doesn’t it?

I really do need a shopping buddy for these less fun clothing items!

November 1, 2010

Post-spending contemplation

I splurged a bit after all.  I gifted a few Scott Pilgrim books, picked up a few more long sleeve shirts on sale from Ann Taylor as layering pieces (previously mentioned), and splurged on this lovely top:

The Oyster Sateen Twist Neck shirt in Petite 00 
[$40, 50% off]

I feel a little sheepish because I really wanted the OMG Books shirt but this one grabbed my attention while I was ordering the much needed work shirts and now I feel like I’ve hit the limit on acquiring stuff.

Returning is always an option but it does fill a gaping area in my wardrobe between completely casual tees and button down long-sleeves.

As I ponder, I’m grateful I even have the choice considering my friends Sense to Dollars and eemusings recently discussed the lack of a generous returns policy in New Zealand. Without that option, I would certainly never have ventured to even buy it in the first place.

Until I started working and truly needed business clothes, my shopping had become so sporadic that I’d well gotten out of the habit of buying and holding. Stores like Ross and Marshalls are great but so rarely turn up gems that are both bargains and fit well that I’d basically given up on them for anything but housewares.

So while the professional side of me is grateful to Well Heeled for introducing me to petite fashion bloggers like Petite Asian Girl and Alterations Needed, the frugal PF blogger in me is distinctly uncertain about this whole other world of shopping where people my size actually can, for a price, find clothing that fits and flatters or make it fit and flatter.  It’s probably a good thing that I’m used to spending on a budget … or rather not spending because I’m on a budget. 

Here’s the real question: Keeper, or no?  Fits really well. Could be paired with … things. Ah yes, check out my fashion sense!


My thanks …..

to Flexo for hosting this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance and including my post Scammy scam scam?

May 24, 2010

My first new store credit card in 10 years

While I apply for regular credit cards with almost reckless abandon to get a new round of bonuses every year (no more than 3 per year, noted on a spreadsheet for maximum bonus and cancellation efficiency), my store credit cards have been limited to Macy’s (unused), Victoria’s Secret (unused) and Best Buy (long since canceled).

And now, Banana Republic. On my Desperate for a Sweater shopping trip, there were no coupons or sales. Le horror!  Unfortunately, I simply wouldn’t have time to shop again for weeks and I wasn’t going to survive another week in the frozen tundra of an office space so I bit the bullet and bought a lightly discounted sweater.

Confronted by the usual “do you have a store card, and do you want to sign up for a 20% discount today?” I halfheartedly waved the baited hook away until I realized that that was the only worthwhile discount option. No gift cards in hand, no coupons, no cashback. It was the store card or nearly full price.  My bargain dependent heart couldn’t take it and so I did. Take the card, that is. Oddly enough, I promptly forgot about the card. Three weeks later, it appeared in the mail, I paid the bill and noted the various ways they get you to keep the card:

1. Bonus points for purchases at their stores
2. Loyalty tiers for spending at least $800. per year.
3. Cash outs for every 1000 points, which means any points that are leftover are held prisoner until you spend more.
4. Bonus points for making a purchase outside their stores within 30 days of activation. This is to get you accustomed to spending with their card all the time.

I’ll keep it open long enough to benefit from the bonus point for signing up for paperless statements (500 points) and for making an outside purchase (2000 points). That nets me a $30 credit. But beyond that, is it worth keeping this card?


My thanks …..

to Adam of Money Relationship for including my post on Lingering Side Effects of Debt in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.

Be sure to submit to this week’s Carnival hosted by me this week!

Check out ….. 

the Carnival of Money Stories hosted by Funny About Money!

April 12, 2010

I need a netbook!

How cool is this Lenovo Skylight? 

I could be typing this on the netbook at work on my lunch break instead of frantically tapping on the iPhone on my ride home.  My hands are cramped enough already. 

More importantly, I can easily carry the netbook to and from work for note-keeping purposes and keep confidential information on my employees secure.  The 1-subject spiral bound that I’m using to take notes during every meeting is just not going to cut it because I have to keep taking it home with me and it’s positively NOT secure when I’m at work.  I can’t very well put a diary lock on it, now can I? 

There’s a touch of concern that it’ll just look uppity carrying a netbook around the office, but frankly? To save myself the time and pain of typing up post-meeting summary translation of my hand-scribbled notes and to be able to secure all employee related files on a flash drive that I can easily pop into my purse?  Call me MS. Uppity!

In all seriousness, a netbook’s not in the budget. I don’t even have a new saving plan set up – I’m still waiting on my first paycheck to straighten out my budgeting. But I surely would love to make some room for it.

[small part of me pipes up: “You’ve already spent thousands already, what’s another two hundred dollars?”  *smack!!* “Cuz shut up, that’s what!”]

The Skylight’s not to be released until later this summer, and there’s no way it’ll be affordable — ’tis a Lenovo, after all.  But a girl can dream, can’t she?

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