Back to School Shopping!

This post is sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s Back to School Sale in stores or at from August 2-15 & find out how to win a $100 Old Navy gift card, $50 OfficeMax gift card & a back pack.

It is almost time to go back to school. Well, it’s almost time for some people to go back to school. Graduating is a bittersweet experience. Anyway, while I won’t be heading to school this fall, I do know one little guy who will be. This year, Wolverine is going to be in first grade, and as many of you with little ones understand, kids grow fast. So the lucky little bugger will be getting some new outfits for school.

The school that Wolverine attends has a dress code, which I think is both good and bad. It is great because kids won’t be teased on what they are wearing. It is also great because it is easy to pick out what your child will wear to school the next morning. The only real reason I don’t like dress codes is because when I was a child I had to wear a uniform from Kindergarten all the way until I graduated 8th grade. I hated it. I had a horrible gray/yellow/blue plaid jumper and an Oxford shirt though. Luckily, Wolverine’s dress code is much looser than mine was. He has to wear solid color pants (in a few colors) and either a t-shirt or a polo (in a couple other colors).

So for the most part, the dress code is a good thing,  but last year, when we were shopping, we had to look all over the place to find matching articles of clothing in the school’s specific colors. That is, until we checked out Old Navy. Shopping for Wolverine at Old Navy last year was awesome. I cannot begin to describe how happy we were with all the clothes we bought there. The pants and the shirts fit him perfectly and the cost was great too. It is easy to overspend during the back to school season, so it was nice to stay within our budget at one place.

We will definitely be heading back to Old Navy to get Wolverine some clothes that will fit him for this school year. His outfits will actually look a lot like this, but only with a plain polo and full length pants. He’s going to be such a stud.

Boy's shirtBoy's shorts

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

thoughts, but mostly questions…

Days Until 2012: viaSo there have been a bunch of food, pictures and Christmas trees on the blog in the past two weeks. It’s time for some words.

  • I think I completed my goal this year in regards to buying all my presents before my brother’s birthday (12/13). I’ve got 6 important birthdays and Christmas all within one month. It is not easy financially. I’ve got to be organized when it comes to shopping.
  • I think I mentioned that I finished my 3rd Semester Project: The Story Behind the Status. I was so excited for it to be complete, but I felt so strange the next day. Like, “What now? What do I do now that is complete?” Well, I have quite a bit that I can do now, so I’m not concerned, but it is sad to see the project completed. I know I can do more with it in the future, I just need to buckle down and finish my thesis now.
  • Thesis? Ugh. What shall I write about in my thesis? Here are a bunch of possible ideas that I have: 1) I could have written a memoir if I didn’t spend my time doing ________. 2)The process of buying a house 3)The important of integrating grapefruit, yogurt and cookies and cream chocolate into your diet. I could really use suggestions. What would you guys like to see me write about?
  • There are a lot of blog related things I need to do, like redesign this blog, or launch my new self hosted 101 in 1001 goals blog. Who wants to help me?
  • Also, does anyone have any suggestions of things I can try cooking for dinner? How about a chicken or pork recipe? I haven’t cooked with those much, so send them my way!
  • Anyone have freelance writing opportunities they want to share with me? I need to beef up my income a little, so point me in the right direction guys.
  • My anniversary with Mr. O is next month. What should I get/do for that dreamboat?
  • I love the tv show The New Girl.
  • I miss me some Gray’s Anatomy. I haven’t watched it once this season.

i hope you’re feeling lucky!

Days until 2012:

Today is a big day on my blog! It is my very first giveaway! How excited are you? I’m pretty darn excited.

 I’ve been searching for cheap business cards for quite some time now. A year or two ago I purchased lovely cards for a networking event I was attending. They were beautifully designed but had minimal information, because I wanted them to still be applicable for all areas of my life. I’ve done a lot of event planning and floral design; I’m also a freelance writer, so instead of purchasing two sets, I figured I would just get one all-encompassing unspecific card. This plan worked for the most part. However, I got a lot of “Do you have a webpage with any of your designs?” or “where are you located?” (Note: I am still not “located” anywhere, but if someone wants to pay the rent for me to have a cute little boutique-like office, I am GAME). Plus, now that I am writing more often, I tend to hand my card out more often. So recently I’ve decided to purchase two sets of cards. I’m sure they will still be slightly nondescript, but they will hopefully seem more professional.

Here is my problem: I’m poor. I’m trying to buy a house, and I’ve recently found out how much my monthly repayment will be on my student loans (BARF!). Buying two sets of fantastically designed business cards really isn’t in the budget. I have champagne taste on a beer budget.

Cue the most awesome website ever! Overnight Prints! They have cheap business cards that are über professional and gorgeously designed. Cheap business cards! What could be better? (Hint: Not very much) Oh, and they are having a deal right now where you can buy 500 business cards for $15.45. I challenge you to find 500 business cards for that price that are printed on quality stock. Oh, and you can choose to gloss one or both sides for FREE! (Free is one of my favorite words.) There are so many great things about this company. It is called Overnight Prints because you can literally design something (by 8pm) and get it in the mail the VERY next day if you need to. Oh, and they have mini-business cards too, which are the type I have (and am running out of) right now. I get SO MANY COMPLIMENTS on these cards. They stand out so much more because people expect all business cards to look the same, and mine don’t. Plus, did I mention they are inexpensive?

What does this mean for you? Well, you can win a $25 gift card to use at Overnight Prints! Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Oh, and no, you do not need to purchase cheap business cards with this gift card. You can get whatever you’d like! I think it is the perfect time of the year to have a giveaway, because the winner will have the option of using the card to buy holiday gifts for other people or they can simply spoil themselves! Awesome, isn’t it? I do have ideas though if you’re thinking of using it on gifts. You can make a 2012 calendar or personalized stationary. Are you planning a wedding? You can make magnet save-the-dates to send to your guests. Have a business? There are lots of marketing materials you can customize.

Oh, most important part (duh)! Here is how you can win this great prize:

1) Mandatory: Leave a comment ON THIS POST ONLY telling me what you think you’d buy if you won. This will enter you in the giveaway.
2) For an extra entry, include a link to this post on your blog, then leave another comment ON THIS POST ONLY with the link to your post.
3) For a third entry you can share this link on your Facebook page (you’re going to have to leave another comment ON THIS POST ONLY letting me know you did)
4) And finally, for a fourth chance, tweet about the giveaway. If you tweet, make sure to include my handle (@reinventingerin).

The contest begins immediately, and you have until Thursday evening at 11:59pm EST to enter. So what’s that, like 5 whole days? Anyway, I will pick and announce a winner sometime before 5:00pm on Friday (I’m hoping to do it in the morning though). So you now officially have five days and four possible chances to win, folks. Get moving!

poor, not poor: debt be gone, saving be done

So, I like to shop…. I also like to save. Let me share some tips (and back-story) with you.

I got hit by a drunk driver in March, totaling Jude, my Saturn Vue (sniffle, sniffle). This event forced me to car-shop, which is probably my least favorite thing in the world. Anyway, a little over a month after the accident, I purchased Bob, a Honda CRV. Now, of course I made sure that Bob was the best deal I could get for the money I was spending, but since I wasn’t planning on such a big purchase, I’ve been a bit anxious about money in the past week or so.

Bob makes his debut on the blog!

Something else you should know. I was 100% (for the most part) completely out of debt. I’ve had a bit of credit card debt pretty much since I graduated college. I just didn’t understand how credit works, and I made some silly decisions. (Never put stuff like laundry detergent and toothpaste on your credit card if you can afford to pay for it with cash or a debit card, because I have the feeling I just finished paying off some Tide I bought in 2006). Point is, I spent the past year and a half really trying to learn about credit and finances, pay off the debt I was carrying and choosing to never make a similar mistake again.

The thing is, I actually love my credit cards, especially Discover. I love the perks I get for using my cards. So far, I’ve earned two round trip tickets from Southwest by Chase, and so much cash back and other awards from my Discover card. I think I got over $200 cash back just by using my Discover card to purchase MacDaddy, aka William F*cking Shakespeare, my MacBook Pro. Now that is a great credit card. The trick is to pay off your balances in full every single month. If you cannot do that, then you should not be using credit. EVER. I’m serious. I never, ever, ever, ever want to be weighed down by unnecessary debt again.

So back to the story in hand. As of January 1, I had a credit card debt (only a small amount though because I was almost finished paying it off). I also had a car loan, and technically I have school loans. The reason I say technically, is because it is for graduate school, and since I’m currently in school right now, I’m pretending these loans do not exist. I will acknowledge them the day after I graduate. So lets pretend that as of January 1, 2011 I just had credit card debt and a car loan. I did not have a mortgage or any other type of loans or debt. I know that I was better off than many other 26-year-olds, but I still felt suffocated. I hated to make life decisions based on the hold money had on me.

So, I finished paying off my credit card debt 100% in March. Not only that, but my car insurance considered my car totaled, and then paid off the remainder of my loan (which by default checked an item off my 101 in 1001 goals list).  March was a great financial month for me, huh?

But, a girl can’t get to her job that’s 55 miles away by walking back and forth every day, so it was about time for me to buy a new SUV. Bob is wonderful; with gas prices so high, I really appreciate how great he has been. Even though the accident wiped out my car loan, Bob just created a new one for me. The deal I got on my CRV was great, and so are the loan terms. Technically I can pay Bob off in 4 years easily, but I am going to pinch every penny possible and keep my fingers crossed that Bob will be paid off by the time I graduate (per that my financial situation stays the same). This means that I will have paid the SUV off in approximately one year and eight months. If I choose to stay an extra semester in grad school (which seems like a possibility right now) that will add an extra six months to my timeline (it will also add money to my school loan though). I just want the car to be paid off in time for me to start paying for my graduate degree.

Good news though, folks. Don’t fret! By THAT time, I plan on being a best selling memoirist or columnist who gets overpaid on every word she not only writes, but thinks. Phew! I’ll just close my eyes and snap my fingers after I get handed my diploma and *poof* school loans be gone!

So yeah, that was a whole long explanation. All I wanted to do with this post was share some of the tips I’ve learned and link to a bunch of great websites I adore and use regularly. Instead, Bob made his debut on the blog for the very first time (Welcome, Bob!) I completely detailed my financial situation (Note to potential robbers: Please notice the fact that I never mentioned the thousands and thousands I have in savings or in goods, because it doesn’t exist. I might be out of debt, but I’m still poor.)

So what is a poor young lady who loves to shop do? Make good spending decisions. And I do that by looking for deals, using coupons and regularly keeping my eye on “deal” websites.

My all time favorite is probably Groupon. I don’t even want to bother trying to explain why. Here are the sorts of things I’ve purchased through the site: gift certificates to Subway, (flowers), Vistaprint, Shutterfly, Barnes and Nobles, Love Stamped (who I highly recommend), got a few items like a tickets to a hockey game, a canvas stretched photo, and to a few places in my area like a cupcakery, a high-end liquor store and a bookstore. I honestly check the site daily. Well truthfully, I get updates in the morning on my cell phone, but you get the idea. Also, if you purchase a Groupon through the DiscoverCard store (which I do), you get 20% CASH BACK on your purchase. AWESOME! If you don’t use Groupon yet, I honestly feel a little sad for you.

Another site I keep my eye on is Jasmere. What I like most is that the more people who purchase the deal, the lower the price gets. Only when the deal is over is the price confirmed. Scenario: I go on and want to purchase something, lets say a $40 gift certificate for jewelry, and the advertised price is $19. (Now that I’m thinking about it, this is actually something that happened) Well, if a whole bunch of people purchase after me, the price could drop to $17 (which is what happened to me) or who knows, maybe even $15! Jasmere only has one deal every single day, which I like because sometimes GroupOn has too much stuff for me to sort through (am I really complaining about too many deals?) However, I don’t always love the deals on Jasmere. In fact, I probably only love about 40% of the deals. Don’t let that get you down though, because the stuff I’ve actually purchased through this site has been ahh-ma-zinggg and top notch quality. The last deal I bought was for Pangea Handmade, and I got two rings and a pair of earrings for only $17. (Yes, this is the deal I keep talking about.) So check it out and see for yourself.

Hmm, whats next? I think y’all are just going to have to wait for more. This post is far too long already, and I should probably do some homework now.