Monday, June 24, 2013

No to Zip Code

I am one of those consumers that says no to most questions at the end of the transaction.  No to rewards card.  No to email receipt.  No to phone number.  And, no to zip code.  Basically, I've come to the conclusion, and it is just my personal belief, that the company or the store is not asking these questions to help me.

Now, I've come to find out that I was right at least as applied to the zip code question.  Rather then gathering data to figure out where to locate the next store, stores are gathering data on you.  Take your zip code and your name (gathered from your credit card or debit card) and they can track you down to send you catalogs and other unwanted marketing material.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 Savings Goals - June Update

(1) Max out 401k(s) -        $19,428 (56%)   (goal is $35,000)
(2) Max out IRA(s) -         $6,013 (55%)    (goal is $11,000)
(3) Add to e/r fund -          $4,800 (48%)   (goal is $10,000)
(4) Pay down mortgage -   $2,075 (42%)     (goal is $5,000)
(5) Trading account fund - $50  (1%)        (goal is $5,000)
(6) House projects -          $1200 (40%)      (goal is $3,000)

Total:  $33,566 (41%)

We are about $400 ahead of where we should be.  Looking at each goal, we are generally on target or a bit ahead of the game for each except the trading account fund.

As I mentioned during my last super savers update, I had some un-budgeted car repair/service expenses (more on that later).  We also have a large house project expense coming up so I'm going to have to tap that account as well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When is a Sale Not a Sale?

Earlier, I wrote about the psychological impact of shopping without actually buying the product you are shopping for.

Now comes news on something I've suspected for many years, at some stores sale prices are not really sale prices.  Rather, as Today News reports certain stores, including J.C. Penny, Kohl's and Macy's have been caught advertising and pricing items on sale when they are actually selling the product for the manufacturer's suggested price.

There are almost an unlimited number of techniques companies use to get us, the public, to part with our money either by increasing purchases and/or by increasing the purchase price.  A "sale" when its not really a sale is just another technique but one that the savvy customer should be aware of by comparison shopping and doing their own research.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Diamonds and Dollars - Update

Back in August of 2012, I wrote about a claim we had submitted in the DeBeers diamond price fixing case. Well, yesterday Mr. Sam received a $270 settlement check.

I have no idea if this is a fair or reasonable settlement for the damages suffered by the consumer class (I understand, from my research that the wholesaler class is getting much larger checks) since I never studied the claims or undertook any analysis as to Mr. Sam's damages.  I understand from the diamonds class action web site that "payments were calculated based on several factors, including how much you paid, the quantity and quality of the diamonds you purchased, the amount of money that is available for your Class or Sub-class, and how many Class Members filed claims."

Anyways, assuming we never would have thought to bring a claim related to the diamond in my engagement ring, we are happy to recover $270 and we are putting it into our vacation fund.

This is the second time I've recovered more than $200 in one of these class settlement scenarios, so I'll continue to fill out the paperwork.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Satisfy Your Shopping Itch Without Buying

I've used a little trick for years to satisfy my urge to shop while also keeping my spending in check.  I go to my favorite online stores, J. Crew, Amazon, Pottery Barn, etc.  For clothes, I pick out something, I take a look at colors, I pick out my size, etc.  I may shop for an entire outfit.  Then I put it into my shopping bag or my shopping cart and then I simply don't check out.  My cart has items that I picked out more than 2 or 3 years ago.  Sometimes I use this method because I'm following our rules on waiting a day for every $100 an item costs, meaning if I picked out a pair a shoes that exceeded a $100, I am required to wait before I purchase them.  But, just as often, I simply enjoy this process, the browsing, the effort of coordinating a skirt with a shirt, finding the perfect dress for an upcoming event or trip and then feel little to no need to complete the sale.

This morning I read an article on The Atlantic that seems to confirm that materialistic folks (perhaps I am one) receive a greater happiness boost from thinking about acquisitions than from the actual acquisition.

What do you think?  Do you ever engage in imaginary shopping to satisfy your shopping impulses?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quick Debt Update

I don't post much about our debt, because there isn't much to say these days.

We don't use credit cards in our day to day life.  But, we do, for our rental properties, occasionally run up the Home Depot credit card, we obtain 0% deals, and then pay it off over time with rental income.  I am happy to report that the $2500, 0% interest, credit card debt incurred in November 2012 has been paid off with proceeds from rent.

Additionally, I was pleased to note that the mortgage balance, for our primary home, is now below $250,000.  The outstanding balance is $248,962.  In two (2) years we have knocked off $25,000 from our principal.  And since our refinance back in September 2012 our progress has accelerated in that so much of what we pay each month goes to principal rather than interest.  The original loan balance was $315,000 and we took the loan out in July 2004.  We refinanced twice, reducing both the term of the loan and the interest rate each time.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Zen of Debt Reduction and Weight Loss

I've posted before about as its a blog I read on a regular basis and one I check in on when I'm struggling with focus or a project.

This morning, as I was spinning my wheels on a work project I came across this post on the similarities of weight loss and debt reduction. This is a topic I have visited before, but one that I am happy to return to. To me, getting into good habits is a skill and once I am into the groove on one habit, its easier for me to apply those skills to something else.  So, back to work, applying my drive and focus developed in the personal finance world, to my day job.

Have a great week!