Thank You Cards

Getting mail in your mailbox, actually touching a magazine or a newspaper…it’s something that I will never see going out of style.

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Ah, stationary. According to most, it’s one of the world’s lost arts. As a writer, I find it fairly insulting. Sure, I get the whole “modernization” aka, Evites, not sending thank yous, and e-zines (just to name a few) BUT, it’s a huge part of what I loved growing up. Getting mail in your mailbox, actually touching a magazine or a newspaper…it’s something that I will never see going out of style.

I know for sure, that a blog on the internet isn’t the way to exactly..protest, but what can I say?

In the past couple of years, I’ve attended a ton of weddings, birthday parties, and showers. You know what? Every single one had a mailed invite. What it didn’t have? Personalized thank you’s. More than half did, but there were some that didn’t even sign their name..it just simply said, “Thank you.”

I get it, it’s hard to get yourself together after a huge event and then a possible move into a new home. My thank you’s weren’t even ordered until I got the proofs from my wedding, so I’m not here to throw stones. I will say, it’s kind of a necessity in my book. Take a wedding for instance: Travel plans, buying a shower gift, a wedding gift, hotel rooms, new outfits/shoes for the reception…I mean it adds up to even be a wedding guest, and guests take the time out of their lives to come and celebrate the bride and groom, I think the one thing they deserve is a thank you for spending the day.

After that long winded rant, let’s get to the point of my post:

Thank You’s! My favs right now, and where to get them.

Customized

Tiny Prints, Wedding Paper Divas…you get the gist. These are the easiest sites to get thank you’s in bulk– but you pay the price. A count of 50 cards can run you around $60-$70. The styles are cute, and you won’t get the customization at Hallmark. So, if you got the cash, opt in for this. A site that is customizable but is more reasonable than the other sites? Simply To Impress is cheaper per card than the other popular sites.

Lifeguard Press

Want something bougie and overpriced? Lifeguard Press is your place for all things basic. Not gonna lie, I go to this site all the time– but a set of 10 Thank You cards from kate spade runs you $20. That’s more than getting your name in gold foil from Wedding Paper Divas. They have free shipping, but you have to stalk your emails for promo codes, because they expire quick.

Home Goods

I know you guys are getting sick of me vouching for Home Goods SO hard, but have you ever been in the stationary aisle? Photo albums, gift bags, and a ton of greeting cards. If you’re lucky, there are a couple box sets for cheap. Grab ’em when you see them. They’re useful to have in the house.

Target

I’ve found that Target can be overpriced for some stuff, but depending on the kind of greeting cards you’re purchasing, you can get cards for $3.99 for a count of ten. They have a ton of options, and unlike Home Goods– you can see what they have available at home before you trek out to the store.

Anyway, I LOVE thank you cards. You can get so creative and send out cards for just being a friend. It’s a really nice way to show somebody they are appreciated.

Love you, mean it.

K

 

 

Wanna Save Money?

I wouldn’t call myself exactly…broke AF– but we’re scraping by…so I wanted to close that gap by trying out a couple of ideas that you always see on the internet– and see if they work: Guess what? They don’t.

I wouldn’t call myself exactly…broke AF– but we’re scraping by…so I wanted to close that gap by trying out a couple of ideas that you always see on the internet– and see if they work: Guess what? They don’t..and NO you can’t make $5,000 by doing surveys because you will literally kill yourself from frustration 10 minutes in.

So, I figured out that I should take out my daily spending money per paycheck in cash and leave the rest in my bank account– untouched. WHALE– that kind of worked– but if I didn’t want to spend my spending money because of something I just …needed…to buy, I would just swipe my debit card. SO, that didn’t work too well, but I did figure out that I am deathly afraid to be without a credit card for fear I’ll get kidnapped from work and need to pay for my way home after I escape. So glad I watch so much Person of Interest.

Anywho– here’s what I found works if you are looking for some extra cash, and you have no dignity– like me!

Stop Having Friends

Yea- I said it, but you were thinking it. Friends are super expensive. Weddings, Bar nights, dinners out– sure, you end up sitting home alone every night wondering what to do with the decor of your house– but at least you have your money. (Loljk)

For real though–

Poshmark

Yea, that’s right. Put your crap up for sale. No, not your crappy crap– but your clothes and accessories that you don’t need. And by that I mean– if you didn’t wear it this past season, and it doesn’t fit you…and you forgot about it– SELL it. It makes you feel good!Don’t just sell your clothes, sell your baby’s unworn clothes, or your husband’s clothes that he doesn’t like!

Granted, Poshmark takes out a portion of your profit– but you know what, the app is super user-friendly, and after a couple great reviews– you can shop their wholesale and really turn a profit! However, I haven’t tried that yet, because I’m not too big on the whole…risk your own money for a 50% chance of a reward. Knowing me, I’ll end up with 5 duplicate graphic tees that say “Barre so hard” and no one to sell them to.

Be A Guinea Pig

This too…you read that right. Look up research groups or research study groups. Guess what? If they’re willing to pay me $60 to taste their off brand peanut butter cup…I’m in, and you should be too. Check out local college unions or libraries to see if there are advertisments. They need people, and honey– we’re people!

Stop Buying

Guess what else worked? Not shopping at Nordstrom’s. Or Lilly, or francescas, or etsy…The easiest way to see money in your bank account is not to waste it away on something frivolous. You worked hard for your money– stop wasting it. (Says the girl who was on a mission to buy a new dress for a wedding today)

Well, we can’t all be perfect all at the same time.

Love you, mean it.

K

 

 

A Broke Bitch’s Guide to Gift Giving: Friends Edition

Broken down by category, your gift guide for the less than monetary blessed

We all know that when the calendar flips to December, most people and their saving accounts start shaking in their boots. Why? They haven’t budgeted, and it means that they actually have to use actual money to give actual gifts…instead of IOU’s.

So here it is: Broken down by category, your gift guide for the less than monetary blessed:

For the friend that lives beyond her means: Why not make her feel some sort of special? Let her ball out with a GC to Neiman Marcus Last Call. Better yet, YOU ball out at Neiman and get her a Rebecca Minkoff at a quarter of the price. She’ll be kissing your Bass outlet drivers in ultimate thanks. Not a fan of discounted designers? (Me either) Try a candle that smells expensive so she can feel like she’s in the VIP lounge at the 40/4 club. Wait, is that still a thing?

For the friend that’s clever/kind of hipster: Nothing like a pair of earrings to make her feel like she’s edgy and different. If that doesn’t work, try a slightly inappropriate mug because she seriously doesn’t understand her audience. She’ll make sure to drink out of this when she’s with her sister’s kids and feel no remorse for it.

For the friend that’s into passing out in bathrooms: Ah, my favorite. Even though you can give this one a hangover kit, the gift will be gone within 24 hours. Make it last longer, but make it cheap…because it’s guaranteed to be lost within 48 hours. A flask, bottle of alcohol, or a hotline to a self-help line are all viable options as well.

For the friend that’s Martha Stewart: If she has her own place, try a couple things for her kitchen, a ring plate, or a clever door mat. My favorite go-to gift for a first time home owner (apt owner or whatevs) is a personalized cutting board or some really nice coasters. I think the best gifts are experiences: get her a couple of cooking classes, and make sure to go too…because we all know you can’t cook either.

For the friend that’s a wine-o: This is dramatically different than the friend ending up on the bathroom floor. These girls/guys usually just end up in their bed cuddling with their dogs reminising about their times in college when they DID end up on the bathroom floor. Trust me, it’s a real type of person. Wine-o’s love a good bottle of their favorite white, red, or blush. But, let’s face it…blush is just for when you’re feeling fancy. There’s such a thing as WINE SOAP..so that’s gross, but it’s an option. Wine glasses, accessories, and wine bags to hide wine in are obvious but always a go to.  A better time would be a trip to a winery. Get a couple people together and buy a bottle of vino.

Anywho: The best gifts are outside the box. If you aren’t sure, here’s my secret. STALK their pinterest page, facebook page, and what they already own. Don’t over think it, or you’ll over buy.

The Grad School Diaries

But in the spirit of saving, I am writing to let you know about surviving graduate school and some tips from a basically broke student teacher!

I once had dreams of blogging like Kate. Even started one with a friend, and had it going strong for a while! But then I got the acceptance letter for my graduate program and life went a little haywire for a period of time. Two years later, I’m still at it.
But in the spirit of saving, I am writing to let you know about surviving graduate school and some tips from a basically broke student teacher!

For the first few semesters, my main financial concerns were school supplies, gas, and a new laptop.

So let’s break it down:

SAVE WHERE YOU CAN!

Computer:

I knew I wanted a Macbook, and I also knew it was out of my budget. But when I remembered I have an amazing friend who works at the Apple store, he hooked me up. He ordered me the laptop, used my credit card, his store discount, and then instead of paying for tax and shipping, he arranged for pickup in Delaware. A short drive from my home in Philadelphia, and I bribed another friend with a road trip and Starbucks. So we made a day of it.

Saved me BIG TIME! Laptop still going strong today, worth the investment.

School Supplies:

I needed the basics: folders, notebooks, pens, highlighters, etc. I remember when I was younger, my mom was the queen of never paying full price for anything. She watched the sale ads every week from June through August for sales, and I learned a thing or two.

Office Depot does their penny sale. Spend $5 and then everything else is a penny. I scored notebooks, folders, pencils, and a pencil case.

Shop Rite, believe it or not, has excellent sales as well over the summer. Notebooks range from 25 cents to 10 cents, sometimes even go down to a penny. Packs of pens range anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar. Pencils , folders, sharpies, you name it. And not even the knock off brands, legitimately good stuff!

Gas:

Okay, we all know the struggle of the gas pump. It’s hard, and gas prices flip flop every single day. So I found a few tricks.

If you travel the same route often, notice the gas stations! I made note in my head of who had the cheapest gas on my routes back for forth from class, and tried to plan out when I needed to fill up! Every cent counts at the pump!

Also I played it smart from the start. When it came time for me to get a car a few years ago, I made sure it was fuel efficient to the MAX! Aside from a Hybrid car, this was as close as I could get. Honda and I have become fast friends. My tiny silver Honda Fit quickly become the envy of my siblings and had them asking me to use it for their long trips out of town.

As much as I’m a girl who loves a good truck and SUV, I love spending less money at the gas station more.

Did I mention I’m trying to become a teacher? We are a group that needs to save when and where we can, because we ALWAYS need something!

I recently finished the dreaded semester of Practicum and am in the even more dreaded Student Teaching phase now! Stay tuned, I’ll write about how I learned to not go dead broke while doing my fieldwork next time.

TBT: Money Edition

After a few close calls with not having enough money to get home from Manhattan, I quickly tried to change my ways.

I am not sure as to when I started shopping like I had money, but it must have been way back in high school after I started my first job. I looked for deals, and not so good deals: whatever way I could get the look and brand that I wanted. Although I have worked through the better part of my life, I always found a way to not save money, whether it was a new bag, or a movie that I had to see: it was always the same story…maybe next time.

After I met my boyfriend, we finally realized how materialistic our lives had become, and set off on a journey of trying to save up for a future (key word: trying). It started off slowly, as we were in different countries, and I was living with my parents. I couldn’t seem to shake the urge to buy a new outfit every Friday, or a new makeup palette each paycheck. In hindsight, I was making up the excuse that since I didn’t have to pay for anything other than my coffee in the morning—everything else that I earned was fair game to be spent. Let’s just call this my immature stage. I started hiding my online buys from my parents, and racing the clock to get home before them so I could quickly dispose of the evidence. As for my boyfriend, he was buying items from 100 packs of batteries to a signed Oliver Khan jersey that went for a cool 100 euro. Clearly, we needed some sort of therapy.

Although I spent most of my time in school or working, I still find time to blow through my $500 paycheck every two weeks. A Sephora, Forever 21, J Crew, and Target trip were necessities every two-week period. Not to mention the amount of online purchases from ShoeDazzle, Etsy, and Birchbox that found their ways into my mail slot each week, too. By the time the Thursday before my paycheck came, I was counting up quarters in my car to buy myself a cup of coffee. Did I mention I wasn’t paying for my own gas, school loans, phone bill, or necessities? If I could, I would go back in time to give myself a good shake. What the heck was wrong with me? How did I manage to waste away thousands of dollars on items that I can’t even remember?

After a few close calls with not having enough money to get home from Manhattan, I quickly tried to change my ways. I asked my mom if she needed help around her office, and she offered to have me do her filing. Oh, how the mighty had fallen. I stored away the extra cash in an unused wallet, and tried to forget about it. Every now and again, the urge would creep up, and all my progress would crash down around me.

Fast forward to a year ago: my boyfriend and I were planning on getting engaged, I was living in Philadelphia, and I was still on my dad’s bankroll. I was miles ahead of my past self, but I was nowhere close to where I needed to be. I was living in my future parent-in-law’s house, and I was still depending on my dad’s gas card and EZpass to get me to work. I chose a career in retail, and as many know…that doesn’t exactly shout, “money.” I was always looking for a quick fix, when all I needed were 3 things. Three things that changed the way I thought about money, and has now allowed me to continue my career in retail, while purchasing a house, handling my own student loans, and never being late on a house payment.

  • I never thought of money in the correct way. I always thought money was a gateway to a shopping spree, or expendable. I seemed to always be waiting for the next paycheck: I would mess up my “saving plan” by spending it all in Nordstrom, and I would say to myself, “I’ll just wait for the next time I get paid to start saving.” All successful savings starts with a little bit of self-control, and just a bit more of planning. Living paycheck to paycheck? Me too. With a little planning, your miniscule paycheck will seem doable. Sit down and calculate how much money you need each day. For me, I like a coffee in the morning, and that won’t change. Calculate about $2.95 for a Venti iced, and a little extra for a treat at work (if you can). Depending on how often you get paid, take the number of days in between paychecks and multiply your $5.00 per day by that number. That is how much you need for spending money. Afterwards, plug in your monthly costs: electric, water, or mortgage. As for grocery shopping, make sure to keep your receipts to see how much you are spending, and what your average is. Always add that into your monthly costs. Check to see if there are ways to cut the fat, and what is non-negotiable. I use the app Minted in order to get my finances in order. Although I tend to like writing down things on paper, I do like the ease of an app in order to take my finances with me! Minted allows you to see how much you spend, where money is being spent the most, and it even lets you set your own budgets!
  • Utilizing credit cards and bank accounts responsibly. We all are in the same situation; taking out money can be a hassle. In this day? Who needs it? Everyone takes a credit or debit card, so why bother with cash? By taking out your paycheck spending money the day you get paid, it lets you envision your money being taken away from you instead of swiping a card. On bigger and necessary purchases, it is okay to whip out a Mastercard every so often, but make sure that you are not living beyond your means. For my husband and I, we pay off each purchase in the same billing cycle that is was made in. If your bank or credit card does not have an easy app to maneuver, I highly suggest moving your business elsewhere. I judge service of a company on how easy their app is to move around in. If I have to jump through hoops to find my balance, pay it off, or check out my statements, I won’t be staying too long. For my own bank account, I chose PNC bank. I have the virtual wallet account, and I cannot say one bad thing about it. The app is super easy, and customer service is out of this world. My favorite part? No minimum. The bank likes to give you a threshold to let you know when you are low, but I have gone under, and I was not charged a ridiculous amount of money. (Looking at you, TDbank.)
  • No one hates free money, right? Every other website on the planet is banking that you will give them your email address and not hate the amount of spam that they send to you every day. Something that has worked for me is being a product tester. I got the hookup from a friend who was a science major at a local college. The testing center had gone to her school looking for product testers and she signed up. When she told me about it, she sent me the email. I filled out the survey, and I was called in to do the product testing! The studies vary from products to take home, while others take about a half an hour to do at the actual center. Many times the money is around $50, but other times, it can be around $100. That can be a quick fix for money if you are in dyer need!

Many times, people who look at money as a necessary evil, make money the enemy. Money, when handled correctly, is able to take a backseat to what is important in your life, and just be there when needed. After my husband and I got a handle on our finances, we were finally able to sit back, live within our means, and learn to make sacrifices. We can’t all have a Prada bag for each day of the week.

Buying a House

Buying a house? Like a real house? To some, that kind of thing makes people quiver. According my husband, it’s the best possible move for us to make rather than renting. Granted, everyone is different…but in our real estate market (PA), it is certainly the right move.

But, buying a house comes with a couple of really…real responsibilities. Ones that you wouldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams. Coming from a girl rifled with anxiety and over thinking, you would think I wouldn’t miss something as big as..oh, a water heater, a roof, or a purchase of a lawn mower…but, we all make mistakes. Right?

I’m here to walk you through this, because as much as other people say, it is almost impossible for a young couple to buy a house…I’m here to tell you, it’s possible. You just have to plan a hell of a lot. (Which is hard for me)

First thing you have to get in order:

Start saving: I’m not talking about $5 every paycheck. I’m talking $100. Rip that band aid off, and get it together. kate spade will ALWAYS be there…and you don’t need to keep up your closet’s appearance, you have bigger fish to fry. If you are already paying rent, make sure to budget yourself. Sit down, and budget into your budget to save about $50-$100 each paycheck…or even every month. It adds up, and it is so worth it in the end.

Start a Savings Account: Transfer your monthly deposit into a savings account that you can’t get your hands on if you have a moment of weakness in Longchamp. We chose to go with Capital One 360, and it seems to give us the best interest rate for the amount of money we had saved up for the house. It also has a really easy app and very pleasant customer service people. We all know I’m hard to please, so obviously they’re doing it right.

Save your pennies: Okay, so this one is dumb, but it helps Michael and me have a little extra cash for when we do want to go out to dinner. Usually, I don’t use cash, but every once in a while we both will withdraw a couple 20’s and use it for the week. ANY change we get goes straight into a huge vase in our room. Since Michael used TDbank, we can change in our pennies and dimes for some crisp hundies if we wait long enough. Some use it as a vacation fund, or a puppy fund…but we use it as a food fund because we’re in love with going out to eat.

Which brings me to my next point….budget your ass.

Sorry, but it has to be said. You literally have no idea how much you hemorrhage in money in ONE DAY if you don’t watch yourself. I’m all about the treat yo’ self…but don’t treat yo’ self to a Chanel if you can only buy a tote from the line at Home Goods. Embrace the cheap, and don’t get tears on your new reusable tote.

I go by the rule: $5 a day on any item you want. Make your food at home, and don’t buy any snacks during the day. Now, the $5 rule is only applicable to frivolous purchases. We all know you have to pump your gas, and buy your groceries…so my $5 is used on my coffee…because I am a beast without it. I sit down after receiving my check and budget in my gas for a week, my groceries, student loans, water bills, electric bills, and our mortgage. After calculating all of our expenses, I see how much we have left.

Since both Michael and I get paid bi-weekly…we multiply 5 times 14…which is obviously 70. I usually give myself $100 in case I forget my lunch one day…but you can you know…not eat or something. I then subtract my “allowance” from my total left…and viola! What you save in that paycheck. It seems like a lot of extra work, but my co-worker turned me into a saving machine when she told me about her unwritten rule! ( thanks G!)

Anyway, back to the important stuff, the house and stuff.

Go Slow: Trust me, you would rather be in your situation and saving for 3 years than buy a house without much planning and be house poor…the worst kind of poor. Not only are you bound by contracts and bills…but you can also be charged a hell of a lot of interest, fees, and garnishing of your freaking paycheck if you can’t pay. This holds true for buying that beautiful new couch for your cozy new living room as well. If you can get a free couch for now, TAKE IT. Take anything you can and say thank you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the color for your theme…take it and don’t complain. Second hand furniture is the best kind…because it’s mostly FREE. Save that money for a new couch down the line, when you can afford to drop $700 and not cry as they swipe your credit card…oops.

Expect the impossible: You think you won’t have a bum roof? You will. Concrete problems? Yes, those too. Make sure to allot for the unexpected and impossible, because 9 times out of 10, a new (for you) home will have it’s issues, whether it’s carpenter ants or a water heater that leaks…make sure to are prepared for it, because it will happen.

Now that I’ve thoroughly discouraged you…sorry…I will leave you with one thing:

While I am sitting at my kitchen table, that we bought by ourselves for $500 off of Close5, I will say, it feels pretty damn good to know that I have at least on thing handled.

Now, if I could get my dog to stop jumping onto my bed…

Love you, mean it.

K

25 Things You Should Spend Your Tax Refund On

Tax season is upon us, and that can only mean one thing…refunds. A tax refund is a refund on taxes when the tax liability is less than the taxes paid. In other words, it’s treat yo’ self o’clock. Get it together girl…this means there’s another list here and you best be excited. I’ve come up with some fun things to do with your refund (if you are lucky enough to get one). 


25 Things You Should Spend Your Tax Refund On

  1. Save it.  For a house, or a dog…whatever you want.
  2. Go see a movie.
  3. Do this.
  4. A new handbag.
  5. A massage.
  6. A concert. A Taytay concert…or maybe Korn…who knows?! It’s up to ya’ll.
  7. Take a bartending class. Pick up some extra cash, YAS gurl.
  8. Here’s a tip: get the entire refund in $1.00 bills and roll around in it.
  9. Buy everyone shots at the bar. This one is dumb, don’t do it.
  10. Get one of these: Southland Cotton. Instagram it to me. I want one, and I’ll live vicariously through you.
  11. Go on a vacation.
  12. Buy your family’s birthday presents in advance.
  13. Pay off you credit card balance.
  14. Take up another language…or just pretend to.
  15. Go get that Target Lilly Pulitzer.
  16. Get all of your t-shirts monogrammed.
  17. Buy some SoPro.
  18. Pretend you’re in a rap video.
  19. Invest it.
  20. Take care of some of dat principle in your student loan.
  21. Sob because you didn’t get money back.
  22. Get mad because you had to pay the state.
  23. Go out on a date with your love.
  24. Go out on a date with your girls.
  25. Buy a new wardrobe….cause girl, you’re too fabulous to do laundry!

Well, that’s that! I’m using mine to get some fabu home decor for my pseudo house. You know, the usual. Anyway…

Love you, mean it. 


Xoxo Kate