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, FTD.com (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.