My favorite calculator

This is my favorite calculator from CNN Money.  Yeah, I said it, my favorite (sorry TI-83 – I don’t know how to use you anymore).  This calculator will let you know how much time you have and also how to accelerate your debt-free-ness.  It’ll also make you look at your interest rates – which could have steadily snuck up on you.
http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/debtplanner/debtplanner.jsp


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DIY Jewelry Organization

My jewelry has been a mess lately.  And since I just started a new accessory business (Nerds of a Feather) – I have been desperately seeking a cheap and cute solution for storing my jewelry.  I hate jewelry boxes because my necklaces get all tangled.   I found this AWESOME DIY idea from lovelylittlethings:

My friend, Carol, and I went the easy, budget route and bought a $6 roll of wire mesh from Home Depot. The employee recommended treating the metal with white vinegar before painting it, so I did. Once the vinegar was dry, I spray painted the mesh white (along with a frame that I already had).

I used a staple gun to secure the mesh to the frame, and viola! It’s so functional! My dangly earrings just hook right on, and I used some tiny s-hooks to hang the necklaces.

It is SO much easier to find my jewelry now. AND my necklaces are no longer a tangled mess!

I’m going to the home depot!

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Best Things to Buy in August

I’m so sorry it’s been so long.  My cheapskatery has had to take a back seat to comedy and work (how’s about that?)

My wonderful bf, Matt, sent along a great article from lifehacker about how sleeping in on the weekend is good for you (is he trying to get out of our morning run?) – that is besides the point.  I went to the site and what caught my eye was the article on “Best Thing to Buy in August” :

Older computers: John Morris of CNET tells MSN Money that July and August can sometimes yield savings on slightly older computer models, as AMD and Intel’s release schedules see computer makers ramping up to release new gear around this time of year.

Laptops: Per Gizmodo’s post, and the knowledge that this is when big-box retailers and direct-sale makers start piling on with the back-to-school deals.

Outdoor Toys and Camping Equipment: CNN’s Money site quotes eToys.com’s Sheliah Gilliland as stating that retailers are eager to move the space-hogging pools, playgrounds, squirt guns, and other summer toys for as much as 65 percent off as the pre-holiday season approaches. Yahoo! Finance suggests it’s also a good time to pick up your camping gear.

Kid’s Clothing: Because even if you don’t have a kid going back to school, you might have a kid you can buy gifts for now. If you do have kids, think beyond the immediate fall needs.

Wines: Somewhat obvious, sure, but you can also lock down some hard-to-find, small-run wines in the early fall harvest season, according to SmartMoney.com.

Linens and Storage Containers: They’re aimed at the incoming college crowd this time of year, as AOL Shopping suggests, but you don’t need to show a college ID to pick up some things you almost always find yourself in need of.”

So, run to your local Target and find some deals!  The article also links to a nifty year round “What to Buy and When Guide.”  But buyer beware, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it.  Always keep a list!

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Face Your Debt!

It’s a pretty crappy economic environment out there right now.  No one is doing AMAZING, but we’re all managing to survive somehow (even if it is rolling pennies – yup!)

As I continue to grow up, though I don’t think I’ll ever be fully formed adult, I am beginning to deal with “adult” problems and see my friends do the same.  Mainly, it’s facing our debt.  Most of us have credits cards and some sort of varying balance with some sort of horrible APR.  Mine is relatively under control, but it wasn’t always that way.  I recently checked my American Express which I had been paying on time since I was in college – and they raised the APR to 29.9%!  I was baffled!  I tried my usual begging, crying, pleading on the phone (which, I have to say, usually works), but they wouldn’t budge.  So, now that credit cards are quickly opening up their foul credit lines to us folks again – I got a new card with 0% APR for the first 9 months and 11% APR thereafter.  Thanks a lot AMEX – for nothing.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to pay it off by the end of the 9 months.  Or at least do some serious debt shrinking damage.

SO!  Here’s the thing about debt.  As much as I would like to believe that a bag of money will fall from the sky, I’ll book a job that’ll “pay for everything”, or a fat wallet benefactor will tell me to “live your dreams Kimmy!  Go and make movies and live in a 2 bedroom condo – and leave the lights on all the time!” – it probably won’t.  In fact, I can say for certain that it won’t (well, 2 out of 3 – I still look up in the sky every morning). The best thing you can do is deal with it realistically.  And if any miracle job or cash prize from a game show comes your way, you’ll know how to invest it properly.

1.  Here is my magical tool for calculating debt.

http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/debtplanner/debtplanner.jsp

I love this thing.  It’ll tell you exactly when you will get out of debt and exactly how much you need to pay.  It’s not going to CHANGE your debt, but it will give you perspective.  Did you know if you pay $10 more than your minimum you will reduce your interest paid significantly.  No she didn’t…YES SHE DID!

2.  Check your APR – DO IT!  Call your company and make sure they aren’t screwing you.  Sure, new laws say they have to send you a letter and you can agree or disagree – but the new law says that if you agree, you can use your credit card. If you disagree, you can’t use your credit card, but can opt to pay the rest of the amount on the APR you have.  Bull-oney.

3.  Consider switching to another company.  If you can find a creditor who will give you a 0% APR for a while – do it – just make sure that the APR is lower than what you are paying.

4.  Do a free credit check.  Double check your score and see where you are.  And then, when you start making headway, you can do it again and give yourself a gold star when it gets better.

5.  Cut yourself off.  Consider cutting yourself off from your credit card for a week.  Then maybe a month.  Then maybe a couple of months.  Maybe it’s time to get a new job or cut your spending.  I know for an artist, like myself, when things are good, you get accustomed to living a certain way.  And when things are bad, you continue to live that way until you’re in debt again.  Start thinking differently about how that beer (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) could pay the extra $6-10 on your credit card bill.  I know.  I KNOW!  It’s the worst.

OK.  We did it.  Don’t panic.  The credit beast is way scarier when you let it fester in the Interest building cave than when you yank it out and see it’s just a slimey flimsy bastard that you can tackle.  Be persistent and be ok with it.  Move on and I’ll see you in the parking lot drinking whiskey from a flask.

By the way, I’m not an expert – so if you’re in serious debt, consider contacting a debt relief agency.  They can help you figure out the best solution.

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Quickie: $1 Thrift Store Day

Thrift Stores are already a bargain – but check this out!
In Canoga Park, “Cool Trendy Thrift Store” (the actual name, not an witty re-naming of a thrift store), has $1 day the last Friday of every month. This is supremely dynamite news – especially when searching for bigger items like coats and/or shoes. And if you are any kind of crafty sewer – you could basically turn a bunch of shirts into fabric (which, fabric is way more expensive than I ever imagined).

http://www.cooltrendythrift.com/Events1Day.html

HOWEVER, my dear cheapskates – be careful of the PITFALLS OF CHEAPNESS! Don’t buy something “just because it’s a dollar!!!” Really consider the fit and the quality of the clothing. Think of shopping like the jail cafeteria (go with me now) “Take all you can eat. But eat all that you can take” – or in shop terms – “Buy all you can afford. But wear all that you buy.” (I really have watched Shawshank Redemption too many times).

Here’s another cute site I found with some suggestions.
http://www.travellady.com/issues/issue63/labargain.htm

OK! Talk to you later!

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Free Pretzel Day!

Tomorrow is free pretzel day at Aunt Annie’s.  So, now all the times of walking through the mall and fending off the horrendous/marvelous mass-produced buttery goodness smell – you can walk right up to Annie and ask for a pretzel.  In fact, demand, and she will surely hand it over – FOR FREE (from 10-3) http://www.freepretzelday.com

Where and why did I find this delicious piece of cheap incentive?  My two favorite places – yelp.com and LA Weekly.  Every now and again I make sure to browse through my event sites because you never know when you’re gonna find something you LIKE or more importantly NEED.

For instance, last year, I happened to stumble upon “Hot on Yelp” which is 50% off of selected spa services – just as I was looking to buy my friend a facial for her birthday.  I’ll try to keep you updated on the kitschy-goofy giveaways, and hopefully we’ll find some gems too!

What are you favorite resources for free events in your city?

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Cobblers! (Not the Peach Variety)

In my cheapskate research, I’ve learned a lot about BEING NICE TO MY STUFF! I grew up a rough and tumbly kid, who didn’t really care about my looks (but now, I’m SOOOO Hollywood).  I never really cared about my shoes, until I started ruining the ones I loved.  And living in NYC for 9 years, I wore down a LOT of shoes.  I was always sad to see another pair bite the dust – and then had to go on a search for another pair of uber-cheapies that I prayed wouldn’t give me blisters or longingly look at the $100 of leather boots that I hoped would go on sale one day…and have my size…

So, I got a tip from my new pal Erin Gibson (who is a fantastic, affordable, and incredibly entertaining photographer) http://encphotography.com/ – she recommended Willie’s Shoe Repair (or as I lovingly refer to it as Willie’s Cobbler).

I meandered into Willie’s on Wednesday in hopes that Willie could fix my beat up boots, my beat up shoes, a broken hand bag, and rubberize my dance shoes (that’s right, rubberize my soles).  I don’t know if Willie is a real person, but a kind gentleman named Raoul helped me out (in a dashing mustache no less).

Here’s how it broke down.

Boots: I paid $30 at TJ Maxx 4 years ago

Repair: $40 for new heels.

This is a tough one.  Raoul told me they were good Frye boot replicas (which run about $200-$300).  Frye’s are a really, really good quality boot made of leather and whatever else they use in shoes.  Mine were mostly plastic and paint.  Since I don’t have the moola to commit to Frye’s, I have to choose.  Either I can get the heel fixed for $40 or I found an upgrade of the same boots for $50 at Target.  I may just meander to Target and see how they looks.  To be continued…

Shoes:  $35 bought on sale in Portland 6 years ago

Repair:  $30 for new heels

I tried looking for a replacement for these shoes (Indigo by Clarkes – cutest!), but they are nowhere to be found.  I think I’m going to get them repaired because I still wear them a lot.

Dance Shoes:  $65 on sale 2 months ago

Rubberizing:  $25

This is a necessary evil, so I don’t slip on stage!  My shoes came with the matching rubber, but he is going to reinforce the heel with super rubber (not the real name, but that’s how I remember it).

Bag:  Gift one year ago

Repair:  $15

I LOVE this bag.  I put too much crap in it and tore one of the handles.  It seems a little much, but this is a straight-up carpet bag that none of my household needle are fighting through.   I’m glad I’m getting it fixed before it gets worse.

Cheapskate lesson: I got to speak to Raoul for a couple of minutes about shoe repair and upkeep.  He told me if I had come in a little earlier for my boots and shoes (before they were crooked nubs) the repair would have been cheaper AND the repair itself would last longer.  The heels have gotten to a point where I will probably have to bring them more often because the rubber will wear down.

He equated shoe care to car care (Another thing I’m trying to get adjusted to).  You have to change your oil and check the fluids.  Shoes (a lot less complex than a car), you have to keep the heels and pads in good shape.  He recommended next time I get a new pair of shoes, bring them in and get the heels reinforced.

It was nice chatting with an expert who is passionate about his craft.  We got to chatting about how there are a lot of disposable shoes out there that we don’t take care of and throw away.  If I had the foresight to take care of my Payless shoes, they might actually turn out to be a good investment (that I could even pass down to a friend or Goodwill store after I get bored with them).  Now, I know I won’t go running to get every pair of shoes I own rubberized, but the next time I buy some shoes I’m going to think about:

1:  Do I really need them? (Yes=Go to #2.  No=End)

2:  Are these once a month shoes or every day shoes? (Once a month=#3.  Everyday=#4)

3:  You probably don’t need to go to the Cobbler.  However, if you start to notice some wear and tear and STILL love them, go ahead and move to #4

4:  Go to the Cobbler.  Now remember, an extra $20-$30 now can save you $50-$100 in the long-term – AND your shoes and back with love you for it.

Have you guys have positive/negative experiences with Cobblers? (by the way, ‘cobbler’ is my new favorite word)

-cheapskatewood

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