Monday, October 31, 2011

Layaway: Good, Bad or In Between?

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I’ve noticed some major retailers advertising the return of their Layaway programs. These programs work by allowing a customer to make a small down payment on items they want to buy, and make a series of payments over the course of a few weeks to finish paying for the items. In return, the retailer will guarantee that the item is in stock when it comes time for the customer to pick it up after the last payment is made. There is a service fee associated with layaway, and a customer may be faced with cancellation fees if they miss payments or decide to cancel the layaway plan. However, from looking at both the Walmart and Kmart layaway plans, service fees generally are between $5-10, and customers can get a refund if they decide to cancel the layaway.

I’ve never used layaway before and I’m not planning to use it in the future, but I am curious to know if it is a truly a benefit for shoppers. I can think of a few “pros” for using layaway:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is Your Workplace Affecting Your Wallet?

Let me start off by saying I am absolutely grateful to have a job, but I can't help but notice how the office is affecting my budget, and I'm not even considering transportation and costs to maintain a professional wardrobe.  First there is the pressure to go out on group lunches, which are much more expensive than my homemade or frozen lunches.  Then there is the office party.  At my office, we celebrate birthdays, holidays,  weddings, boss's day, employee appreciation week, and I'm probably forgetting some other party occasions.  We take up a small monthly collections to help with the costs of parties and for office supplies like napkins and cleaning supplies, but each party requires that we either make a potluck dish or pay for catering, and contribute money for gifts.  Each party may call for a small donation, but these $5-$10 add up!

I have to admit, I do love the parties so I always choose to take part in them, but I have come up with a few ways to keep work spending in check:

Office Parties
Suggest a breakfast or afternoon snack party instead of one where the party food is serving as lunch.  This limits the amount of food everyone needs to bring, and everyone can contribute to cheaper food items than  meat items or large sandwich platters.
Offer non-monetary donations.  Bring in decorations, handmade gifts, or games you already own to serve as entertainment.
Suggest consolidating parties.  Instead of celebrating several birthdays individually, have a joint birthday party for co-worker's whose birthdays are in the same month or season.  Likewise, have one big holiday party instead of having back-to-back parties for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.

Group Lunches
Take advantage of lunch specials offered during the day to get menu items for a cheaper price.
Split an entree with a coworker to save on costs and keep you both from over-eating :)
Swap a  restaurant meal for B.Y.O.L (bring your own lunch) get-together in the break room or at a nearby park.

So, is your workplace affecting your wallet? How much do you spend on average each month for work related expenses? Feel free to share!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wedding Cost Estimator + My Wedding Budget

In the many hours I've spent googling wedding stuff, I found a really cool Wedding Cost Estimator tool.  The website has polled women all across the country about their wedding expenditures, and used their responses to create a wedding cost calculator that factors in your location.

Click to go to the calculator

Just enter your zip code, answer a few questions, and with just a few clicks the tool will spit out a cost estimate for your wedding that you can print or export to an Excel spreadsheet.  Here's my estimate based on the info I put in:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Guest Blogging Round-up

For the past month, I’ve been a guest blogger at Pretty Natural Divas.  Every Thursday, I write about all topics finance from the young adult’s perspective in a series called Pennies-Nickel-Dollars.  Take a look at my posts from September and be sure to check me out  each and every Thursday! 

Startingyour financial journey in 4 easy steps A beginner’s guide to creating new financial habits
What’sYour Shopping Style?  Find your unique approach to shopping and how to overcome the pitfalls associated with your shopping style
Pennies-Nickels-Dollars:Financial Role Models  Lessons learned from my financial role models
Pennies-Nickels-Dollars:Hair Splurge!   Reflections on a recent hair product purchase