Thursday, June 28, 2007

being thrift, splurging, and when it's worth it.

With most things in life, I would say I'm pretty thrifty. I like a good sale, discounts, and perusing through the clearance section sometimes. I like stores like Marshalls, TJMaxx (name brands for less, yo!), and I'm amused to search for and find a gem, amongst a bunch of unfortunates. I will buy the food store brand, opting for that choice over the $1.99 more version of the name brand. I'll pass up a Mobil station to pay .05 cents less two miles away.

All that being said, I would not say I'm cheap. I just recognize and love a good deal when I see one. Don't get me wrong, I will splurge with the best of them. I have more handbags than I possibly know what to do with; I treat myself to pedicures regularly. I have a colored flip flop probably for each day of summer (perhaps that's a spec of an exaggeration, but you get the point), and a shoe for every occasion. And I will continue to do all of these things, because, well, I can. For now. And I'll splurge on other items, such as face wash, lotions, shampoos, a good haircut & foil, and undies.

I'm fortunate enough to have a job that offers me the ability to do these things. I don't take this for granted. I certainly don't rake in the dough, by any means. Around the same time every month, I will often go into overdraft protection. Because I'm not good at transferring funds from savings to checking regularly enough. So at about the 3rd of every month, when I've just paid rent, I'm waiting on my next pay check, Sallie Mae just kicked my ass, and I've made both a car payment, insurance payment, and paid for food (you know, to live), and then the gas bill comes, it's pretty rough times.

And to get me good when I'm down, then comes the cell phone bill. Which is pretty much the kicker. Some people are phone people. Some would rather step on a nail. I am not one of these people. I love the phone. It's wondrous chatting with my friends in Maine and NY and NV who all have the same cell phone service so it's free all of the time. That's cool, you know?

What's not as cool, is getting charged .45 cents a minute, when I go over my "minutes." Which I did. This month. And last month too, but it wasn't "as big a deal." This month? We're looking at a $335 cell phone bill, when it's usually around, oh, $40. Opps.

So I can attribute this to a couple things:
1--My mother needs to switch to my cell phone company. She just does. I will not switch to hers; I have no interest. I don't like the provider, the service sucks, and truth be told, most of the people I talk to have my service. Which means mine is the best, clearly. So mom needs to switch.
2--I talk too much before 9pm, and too little after 9pm. Free = after 9. I try to go to bed early these days. I like to talk after work, sometimes on my drive home. Also before work, in the morning, before 9am. Well this isn't an option. Free also = until 6am. Who will I be phoning with before 6am? Really?
3--I don't have a home phone. I just rely on my cellie. Which means, any calls I need to make, during business hours, or before 9pm, on a weekday, need to be done on my cell phone. Which adds up, I guess.
4--I sing for too long on voicemails. Yes, I sing. I leave singing messages and perhaps they get too lengthy.
5--I just plain need to get a handle on things. No more of this doubling my monthly minutes. I'm allowed 7.5 hours of off peak, during the day, whenever the hell I want, before 9pm calling. I need to work on this. Restrain myself I guess.

Clearly this bill threw me for a loop. Kind of irked me, because I try to keep better control of this stuff. But then again? It really so bad. Sure, $335 isn't cool. Not at all. But, since I don't splurge regularly on really really pricey purses and shoes, just sometimes, maybe this is my thing. I like deals, and I take them when I can get them. Perhaps going over in cell phone minutes is my downfall. I like to talk. Apparently a lot. So maybe I don't have a new Coach bag to show for it, or a closet full of designer shoes, but I'm still smiling. Because I got a chance to congratulate one of my best friends on the closing of her house at 1pm on a Friday. And I have peace of mind knowing that my grandmother is feeling just fine after chemo at 5:37pm on a Wednesday night. I have laughed harder than I have in a long time talking to a new friend who is good with directions. I got to welcome my longtime friend home from France on a Monday morning at 10am. People know that they are my "sunshine" as I bust into tune on a random Thursday drive home. My penpal in WV and I can share a dodgy ex encounter at 7pm on a Friday night. I now have a new friend because I had to hound the humane society daily between 11am-4pm.
And you know what? So what, I had to pay for all of this? Quite honestly, I would say it was damn well worth it.

And additionally, I now have three new shirts and a pair of earrings that I just retail therapied myself after viewing this bill. You know, because that's how I roll.


brandy said...

I like this attitude.. wait...

brandy said...

Okay, I've been leaving some long comments lately and was worried my long comment would get busted to second place with someone who wrote a short comment. Now that I have first all sewen up, I can take my time. First of all, I'm with you with the cell phone. I think my most expensive bill (for one month) was $836- and yes I almost peed my pants. Scary times. Secondly, I don't understand anyone who WOULDN'T think your cell phone bill is worth the good times you can mentally scrapbook because of your cell phone. Sounds like you were making some important calls, and seriously, an ex encounter needs to be discussed STAT. Lastly, I'm glad to hear your grams is doing well. Okay, now I'm going to reply to your email. Because it's my turn to do some stalking.

egan said...

Brandy stole my spot atop your blog. You really should consider a better long distance plan. Maybe you should also consider less social activity. You could be a shut in or something instead.

ARM said...

My husband added up all the anytime minutes I've used talking to my friend. It's a lot. And she got her cell phone bill and had a ton of roaming when she was on vacation talking to yours truly. let's just say that it was a lot of minutes and we now have to wait to talk to each other for our marathon talks until after 9 p.m.

Now I ask you - 9 pm??? WTF? I'm getting ready for bed at 9 pm. well, usually...I'm up now, but that's beside the point...who am I going to call right now? Night minutes should start at 7.

Speaking of Coach bags...I almost bought one at the outlet mall I went to...but I couldn't bring myself to do it. For shame.

appletini said...

I HATE it when I run over my cell phone minutes! AND I have my home phone too!

I think, "darnit, I could have bought cute shoes and outfits with that money!"

What really irked me this month was my $374 ticket for making a right turn on a red light with out coming to A COMPLETE STOP! ouch!
Oh well, I guess that's why we work, huh?

2xA+r0n said...

Holy dang! (/wink Brandy)

People still pay rediculous phone rates in this day and age? Wow!

Chris said...

I would suggest your own advice, switch mom's cell provider. Also, if you want to make more calls before 9pm, it may pay to get a land line in your home and get an unlimited plan which starts at about $50/month.

I too am thrifty, frugal, yet not cheap. Darn mortgage on top of everything else can be a real downer...

e.b. said...

Look into adding a handful of more minutes - it is like $10 increments, which is nothing compared to what they (clearly) charge you when you go over - that is what I had to do. I would rather spend the extra $20 each month and be safe than pay $400 - because I have so been there also.

Also check and see if a newer plan can get your nights to start at 7 - I got them to swing that.

brookem said...

brandy- number one! i have to try this on yours again. ive been dropping the ball lately.

brandy (again)- $836! holy hell. well, again, i can relate, and damn, i'm not one to talk! they were important calls, indeed. oh, the ex one was urgent. they pretty much all are. thank you for your kind words about my grandmother! :)

egan- hmmm, a shut in? i dont think id do well with that scenario. can my friends, boys, sam summers, and shoes, still be delivered to my front door? only then may i consider the option. perhaps it is time to look into a different long distance plan. but im stubborn and really don't want to deal with that hassle.

arm- you sound like me with my friend! luckily, she too has verizon, so that works to our advantadge. but yeah, they SHOULD start at 7. sucks they dont. no coach purchase? but you got a new! pair! of! shoes! woot! we need to catch up.

appletini- it's a pain, huh? see, if you're like me, you get a bill like this, flip out, and THEN go get shoes and cute outfits. and then it's a damn vicious cycle i tell ya! my question to you is, was the ticket worth it? ie- was the cop a stud, or what?

aaron- i guess so. apparently.

chris- you know, you have a good point about the landline. my roommate was thinking of getting one for work purposes, so it might not be a bad idea at all.

brookem said...

eb- you know, every time i call them i try and swing the 7pm thing. they hate that suggestion. they wont let me do it and say it's not a choice right now. ugh. but the $10 increments is a good idea. HAPPY VACA!

JustRun said...

I understood every bit of this. And I wholeheartedly believe in retail therapy.

radioactive girl said...

I am not really a phone person lately because I always feel like I am distracted by kids, or things I need to do, but I love your entire post. My best friend and I used to talk for HOURS every single day. We only recently stopped because she has a full time job now and I am doing home daycare two days a week. The days we are both not working, watch out! We are on the phone forever again. The part I love the very best was the last part about using some retail therapy. I love it! That is how I get through my son being sick, and I used it quite a bit when I had cancer. Perhaps that is why I need my two day a week job? To pay for all my retail therapy?

ruby said...

Everyone has to have their splurges and if yours are wardrobe and socially inclined that's so totally worth it. You have to get dressed everyday and it is also essential to stay close with the people that matter. Therfore, your provider needs to pay YOU for using their phone!
I hate getting bills that as astonishingly gigantic! Esp cell phones ones! I'd rather step on a nail (which I did once, story later) than use my cell b.c I get distracted easily and even in the most engrossing conversation a speck of dust floating by can throw me off entirely.

Chris said...


Trixie said...

One on vacation in Hawaii, I called home (SF) from my cell. The next month, I racked up $300 in roaming charges.

Ouch! A lesson learned for me. :(

Ooh I love getting good deals too. Yesterday, I bought a pair of capri pants at Banana Rep. for $34, which was 50% off! Very cute too so I was happy. My mom bought a pair too.

Bre said...

I actually use a pitifully small amount of minutes - I have 200 per month and with free incoming calls, free nights and weekends after 7, and free direct connect (Nextel) I end up using like... 30 actual minutes per month!

undercover celebrity said...

brookem, you know I love you. I do. But really, it may be time to switch to a plan with more minutes. Because I, your loyal reader, cannot bear the pain of reading about another $300+ phone bill. It makes my soul hurt on a Friday morning. :)

ps - I SO feel your pain when it comes to people in your life who have other wireless networks. When I first started dating Mark (many moons ago) he was still on Cingular (I'm a verizon girl) -- and I had a couple of astronomical cell phone bills. I had to sit him down and tell him that either he switches to verizon, or we're over. It worked :) (pps Ben is TOTALLY on Verizon -- good sign :)

brookem said...

justrun- there is nothing like a good shopping trip to cure most all woes. i firmly believe that.

radioactive girl- i'm glad you can relate to the post! and the retail therapy. i mean really, what woman cannot? yeah, i guess we have to do something to pay for it all. it ends up being worth it, i say, in the end. like you and your cute new jeans!!

ruby- i think that you are on to something lady! i LOVE the idea of the cell phone company paying ME to use their service. i mean, it makes perfect sense, I think!

chris- do you now have a cat? after the bad experience at the shelter back in the day?

trixie- damn long distance charges! luckily i have that for free... but still, it's the freakin 9pm thing that gets me. every.single.time! your new capris sound cute! and a great deal! love it.

bre- well look at you! you seem to have this all down to a science. lucky.

brookem said...

undercover celeb- i know, it's freaky news indeed. im glad you will still be a loyal reader. and SO happy to hear you have verizon. my ex boyfriend also had cingular. which i hated. he would not switch, i would not switch, it was a whole thing. luckily that's all behind us. it is indeed a very good sign that mr. ben has verizon. things are meant to be.

Chris said...

I do, we got him late last summer - his name is Oliver.
There are some recent pics here:

The Exception said...

This is a catch up comment -

I LOVE the last post about those moments. As you know, I had one a few days ago. They are rare and precious. And sometimes it is difficult to recognize them while they are happening. They are poignant whenever they occur and whenever they are remembered/relived.

Next - congratulations on the kitten. I hope that you will write more of him in the future. If he is anything like my cats, he will be a character worth illustrating in words.

Lastly, it sounds as if your phone is a significant part of your life and thus, I think it is worth the money spent. Perhaps the service has a better plan? That seems really high per minute if you go over your allotment? But if your mobile is the only phone you have... hey, it is like a treat and something important. I say... just keep chatting! (and finding those deals!)

appletini said...

Nope, I didn't have the treat of having a hot cop ticket me..... it was one of those darn cameras!

Gosh, those cameras sure do take good pictures. It's kind of hard to deny that it was you driving the car :)

brookem said...

chris- oliver is adorable! thanks for sharing the pictures of him. meow!

the exception- i love your "catch up" comment. you did indeed, appear to have one of those gem of a moments at the beach the other day. i loved your description of it all. definitely one to remember.
i will surely be writing more about little cosmo in posts to come. he's just so cute. really makes me smile.
and you're right- one way to look at the phone thing is as a treat. i deserve it!

appletini- a camera!? that's a rip off! if im going to get pulled over, i at least want it to be done by a uniformed/cuffed man. what the hell.

radioactive girl said...

I can not believe you remembered my jeans! Too funny! But also very true!

I also wanted to say that I think keeping in touch with friends is good, and if you have to end up paying more than you think you should, it is still worth it. I totally understand being frugal in some ways and then seeming to discount it all by having a large phone bill. I do things like that all the time, and my husband can never seem to figure out why sometimes I am cheap (his words) and sometimes so spendy. I am cheap exactly SO I will be able to be spendy when I feel it is worth it.

Airam said...

Ha! Only a true-blue spender would mend a broken wallet by going out shopping!!! Too funny!!

Anonymous said...

Before my company bought me a cell phone, I would go over on my minutes all the time! So happy not to have any more cell phone bills...

But the other side to this is the CEO called me at 11pm the other night needing me to contact guess I'm never really off of work... :(

Keep working it girl... maybe your company will treat you to a celly too. :) Hope so!

Clare said...

I go over my minutes all the time and it sucks. There's always that one call you have to make to a friend to tell them important gossip or news you think can't wait till you get home.

Oh and you can never have enough handbags :).

egan said...

Nothing like a little retail therapy I say. Meow! I hope the baseball game was to your liking. Anything can be delivered to your front door for a price.

angel, jr. said...

I'm a phone person, but not like that. Well, I actually don't like talking on the phone, but I do because it's a better way to keep in contact than email.

B said...

$335.00 ???? what! I pay $10 a month talk quick state your business, email me later is what I say LOL I am not cheap just hate the phone

I must also be odd because I hate sales - the stores always look a mess, I usually feel good paying full price if I really like something, if I see it on sale later I just lift my head and walk away:)

brookem said...

radioactive girl- you've got it all figured out! i love how you said you are "cheap" so that you will be able to be spendy when it's worth it. exactly!
ps- how could i forget the jeans! i love them!

airam- this is true. yet, i dont do it all the time. just the other day, it seemed the right thing to do. and the accessories/shirts were calling my name. you know the drill!

desiree- you lucky girl, you! no such luck that my work will do they. they are frugal to the MAX. but sounds like your deal works pretty well!

clare- bless your heart that you said one can never have enough handbags.

egan- the sox game was very much to my liking indeed. meow.

angel jr- you know what? good thing i dont get charged for emails per the one! i'd be a dead girl.

b- $10 a month?! what the holy hell is going on with that? wow. ha, and you're not odd. i just love a good sale, but can fully also appreciate what you're saying about the good feeling when you find something you LOVE, that fits just right, for full price. sometimes you just gotta say, fuck it. and buy.

ARM said...

Guess what?!? You won my contest!!!

egan said...

Brookem, you won ARM's contest. Damn and congrats!