A Little Planned-Ahead Splurge

I was shopping at COSTCO the other day and found myself in a aisle full of 8×10 cardboard ‘product cards.’

There were a variety of different products – everything from a day-long ski lift ticket (about $40) to a movie night out (two adult admissions, two drinks, and a popcorn, $23) to ‘coupons’ ($100 gift cards for $80) for overnight stays in fancy hotels, dinners, and amusement park admissions.

On the average, these purchases will save the consumer about $20 each.

And while these are not items that I buy regularly, I will certainly keep them in mind in the future should we be considering such a purchase, and definitely a good idea for gifts. And with Christmas coming on fast, the more money I can save, the merrier I will be!

So I picked up a movie night voucher. I’ll keep it on hand for when we want to just make a run for it. It hurt a little throwing out $25 at the cash register. But now that it’s just floating around in my wallet, I’m checking out the movie listings for something I know my husband will love. No harm in enjoying a little anticipation…

In fact, now that I think about it, those ski lift tickets might go over well with my teenagers this year…


Stretching That Food Budget

And another Thanksgiving has come and gone. I’m so glad we have a 2-1/2 month stretch until Christmas turkey!

But I think I aced the meal this year. Though we only had eight for dinner, I went ahead and invested in a thirty pound turkey. At $0.88 a pound the week before the long weekend, I only paid about $25 for it. I have a huge roaster, and this thing filled it.

I’ve gone over the border and paid about that much for a turkey in the past, but with gas prices and border wait times, I gave up the practice long ago. What I opted for this year was a cheaper utility turkey – might be missing a wing or a drumstick, but still has quality meat and will go for a much lower price.

On the table, it looked great, tasted fabulous, and everyone ate ’til they couldn’t eat no more.

After dinner though, I got my money’s worth. I served out ten more full dinners into reusable containers and loaded up the freezer with them. Then I still had an extra large bowl of meat scraps, vegetables, and roasted potatoes that I covered in gravy and left in the fridge. The husband and kids have been dipping into that over the past couple days and with the half bowl that’s left now, I’ll roll out a crust using Pilsbury crescent rolls onto a flat baking pan and cover it with the rest of the leftovers, making one (well, actually, two) big turkey pies. That’ll be Sunday dinner next week. By then, everybody’s turkey’d out for a while.

The dinners are there if anyone needs a turkey fix. And I fed the entire family – a total of 38 full dinners – for about $40. Including the COSTCO $5.99 pumpkin pie.

Can’t beat that.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Bi-weekly Loan Payments Are More Than You Might Think

Am I the only one who’s really ticked about these bi-weekly car payment ads?

It used to be that you bought a new car for, say, $18,000. You did the paper work and ended up with monthly payments of a somewhat manageable $250.

Now, every ad out there is offering payments of $136! $152! $171!

And we, who are used to the monthly payment standard think, wow, that’s bloody cheap! Those lowered interest rates are really making a difference in car payments. Maybe I can afford a new car after all.

BUT WAIT!! Read the fine print.

Those payments areĀ  bi-weekly payments. That means you’re making that payment every two weeks. Which means that you’re making at least two extra payments each year – that’s three car payments instead of two, every six months.

I don’t know about you, but that extra $150-$200 payment in a month would really set off my budget.

Be careful. When you’re discussing finances with the salesman, watch how you can’t get him to actually verbally tell you the full price of the car. Nor will he specify the monthly payment. He sticks to his insistence that the payments are a low, low $124. Anyone can afford $124, no?

It’s a sales tactic and nothing else. The idea is to make you think that you can afford the car. And once your heart is set and your mind made up, the reality of the financing won’t matter much.

Multiply your bi-weekly payment by 26 and divide by 12 to get your actual monthly payment – the amount you’ll have to budget for. If that amount fits you budget, then go talk to the guy.

Don’t let him throw numbers at you until you’ve done your homework. His only concern, regardless of what he says to convince you, is whether or not you buy the car.

Not whether or not you can pay for it.