Spring Cleaning

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The weather finally is getting warmer, the clocks have sprung forward, and it’s time for some spring cleaning! I enjoy cleaning out my closet as much as the next gal, but let’s get serious. Spring is a time for cleaning up everything, including those pesky personal finance tasks that you’ve been putting off.

Here are a couple of things you might want to consider getting done to complete your spring cleaning:

  1. Finish your taxes. If you didn’t do it yet, do it soon because the deadline is April 15. Be sure to use a tax professional to help you get the most deductions possible.
  2. Get a handle on your debt. Start organizing bills and stop putting them aside. Figure out how much you owe everyone, figure out what debt has the highest interest rate, and focus on paying down that debt first.
  3. Clean out your closet and donate the clothes you haven’t worn in 24 months. Did I mention that charitable donations are tax-deductible?
  4. Shop around for insurance. Have you been using the same company for 5 years without comparing rates? You might be able to reduce insurance rates by comparison shopping.
  5. Cancel subscriptions that you don’t use. Have you been receiving a magazine you don’t care for anymore? Are you still subscribing to xBox live even though you don’t use it? Cancel the subscriptions and stop paying for service you don’t use.
  6. Compare shop for cable/internet. Some companies offer a deal if you “bundle” cable/internet and commit to a year or two long contract. If you are feeling really adventurous, cancel cable completely and try using Hulu/Netflix.
  7. Check on your cell phone usage. Is there a new plan available that can better suit your needs? If you cell phone plan expires soon, ask yourself if you really need that fancy new smartphone. Odds are, you don’t.

The Cost of Getting Sick

Courtesy of www.spaweekblog.com

How I Feel This Week – Image Courtesy of http://www.spaweekblog.com

Hello readers! I know I’ve been out of touch for the past couple of days. I’ve been home sick in bed, which has resulted in numerous naps, excessive consumption of chicken soup, a trip to the doctor, three antibiotics, and a bottle of Advil. I’m thrilled that I’ve finally mustered up the energy to compose a post, and the events of the last few days have gotten me to start thinking about the cost of getting sick.

This week, as a result of my respiratory infection I’ve incurred the following expenses:

  • Visit to the Doctor, including Strep Throat Test: $15 co-pay
  • Copious amounts of fresh chicken soup: $15
  • 3 Types of antibiotics – $5 each for a total of $15
  • 1 bottle of Advil to reduce fever, shakes and sweats: $10

That comes to a grand total of $55. Certainly not too bad when you add up the amount of services and products I’ve received. I’m lucky to get sick time through my job and have a good medical plan, which really reduced my costs significantly. However, what about those of us who are uninsured, unsalaried or both? In the interest of fairness, I want to show you how much the same exact experience would have cost me if I didn’t have sick time and insurance:

  • Visit to the Doctor, including Strep Throat Test: $220
  • Copious amounts of fresh chicken soup: $15
  • 3 Types of antibiotics: $210 (estimated $70 per antibiotic, which is on the cheap side)
  • 1 bottle of Advil to reduce fever, shakes and sweats: $10
  • 3 days of lost wages @ about $300 per day of work (pre-tax): $900

Grand total of…(digital drum roll)… $1355! That is nearly 25 times the cost of getting sick while having benefits. In my opinion, the discrepancy is ridiculous! However, it reminds me of how incredibly lucky I am to have sick time and health insurance. If you aren’t as fortunate, it’s especially important for you to think about putting some money aside in an emergency fund to cover these types of expenses in the event of an unexpected illness or other emergency.

Well, it’s time for another nap, so back to bed I go. Stay healthy my friends!

 

 

Shopping on a Budget

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Displaying my finds after a shopping at the local consignment store.

Last week, during my wanderings around my new ‘hood (I recently moved), I spotted an answer to this conundrum; the local consignment store. For those of you unfamiliar with consignment, it’s a secondhand shop where you can bring clothing or other items you don’t use anymore. The shop owner agrees to sell the item for you, and once your item is sold, you get a cut of the profit. If you’re not ready to let go of any items in your carefully curated closet, you can always do some good old fashioned shopping too.

Back to my shopping experience. The aforementioned shop is my new favorite because it features designer consignment. That means designer clothing, usually new or in like-new condition. The biggest perk: most of the denim is already hemmed – a definite plus if you are less than 5’10”.

My excursion was quite the success. I acquired the following pieces for $70: A black long sleeve scoopneck top (still new, from Bloomingdales), a striped turtleneck blouse (also new, from Anthropologie), and a purple Diane von Furstenberg dress. The dress was pre-loved, but I was willing to commit because after careful inspection, the dress was in new condition, excellent quality, fit like a glove, just missing the tags.

Shopaholics, fear not! Going on a budget doesn’t have to mean giving up your personal style or favorite brands. Rather, it might just mean adjusting your shopping habits and maybe even finding the local consignment store near you.

Shout out to Lucky Finds Boutique for a very productive and budget friendly shopping experience!

Time & Money

Courtesy of Shawn Olson Creative Arts,www.shawnolson.net

Courtesy of Shawn Olson Creative Arts,
http://www.shawnolson.net

The Superbowl is fast approaching, and many of us (myself included) are anticipating the most exciting part of the annual American tradition: commercials. It’s no secret that advertisers spend millions of dollars to secure thirty second commercial spots each year, just to tap into the viewing audience that watches the game. All of this crazy and excessive spending has got me thinking about time and money. The old adage says that time is money. But based on these obscene expenditures, is time really money? Or is it something more?

I’m going to go with the something more. I believe time equals opportunity. Opportunity is desirable, and therefore costs money. The opportunity to reach millions of guaranteed viewers during the Superbowl Halftime Show is extremely desirable, so it literally costs a fortune.

Recently I’ve been applying this same principle of opportunity cost to my own life. If an opportunity is worthwhile, I’m willing to pay, either monetarily or with time. If not, I let it go.

A great example of a worthwhile expense for me was hiring moving men to assist with moving furniture from my apartment to new house. It would have taken me ALL DAY (no exaggeration) just to move my sofa into the moving van, forget out of the van and into my new pad. Of course, that doesn’t include any other furniture, boxes or other belongings. It was absolutely worth it for me to pay a couple of movers to help me out. I spent $300, and they moved everything out of the apartment, onto the van, and from the van into the house. It was beautiful, and done within mere hours. Best of all, I didn’t even break a sweat! It was completely worth the money I paid because it created the opportunity for me move in a single day and focus on unpacking.

Conversely, I was recently offered the opportunity to work on Saturdays for an extra $100 per week. This opportunity isn’t quite as worthwhile. Sure, and extra $100 would come in very handy. But at what expense? Friday will become yet another work night. I’ll have to get up with my alarm clock on Saturday morning and surrender my sweet sleeping in time. Not just that, I’ll have to cancel any plans I would have had with family and friends. On top of all that, I’ll have to actually go to work. Is the opportunity really worth my time in this case? No, I’m not being bratty. These things are real considerations for me, which means I have to seriously consider whether this opportunity is worth its cost.

The main idea here is to always weigh your options. Different people have different priorities. Different opportunities have different values. Consider your options and be honest with yourself about what opportunities are worth to you.

To all my football fans out there, enjoy the game! Go Ravens!