Monday, January 30, 2012

I Have Never Had a Real Credit Card

I have a rule where I don’t really like talking about finances with friends because it seems to cause problems sometimes. I have on occasion talked about it with a few close friends; they talk about their money problems and their debts. I am going to tell you something that will shock you; I am thirty years old and never have had an actual credit card. I wasn’t someone who when they turned 18 they mailed in every credit card offer they were mailed.  I am not going to say I am debt free because I am not. I have some unpaid medical bills from the time I had to take Noah to the ER because he stuck pieces of the inside of a diaper up his nose and didn’t have insurance. It was one of those situations where the hospital and poison control were telling me to rush him to the emergency room, and I didn’t want to chance something happening to my little boy, so we went.  I have other things that put me in debt, but it could be a lot worse.  I know that a lot of people are in debt, especially with the horrible economy.  Sometimes people have to rely on their credit cards to make ends meet.  Sometimes others use their credit cards on big ticket items like TV’s and tablets and they have to look in to contacting a debt management company, to help them get back on track.

I can’t say that I am the best when it comes to money though. I did a long time ago have some trouble with bounced checks… I was young and stupid. I thought the money would hit the bank before the check cleared and my calculations were wrong a couple times. I promptly paid the checks and the fees, but it was a hard lesson to learn. It’s really easy when you are 18 to end up having money problems because you are young. It’s not surprise why people use debt relief programs to help get out of debt.  I know that they do help people reduce the money they owe considerably.  I think that besides the checks and the little debt I am in, that I am in good shape, especially compared to other people my own age.

Let's Talk about Peer Pressure

I have been thinking a lot about peer pressure lately. It something we deal with from when we are little all through school.  We feel peer pressure when we are younger, to try drinking, smoke cigarettes, do drugs and even have sex. We also even felt pressure about the friends we had, and who we wanted to be in a relationship with.  People have missed out on great friends because of peer pressure. I am sure we all have been under that type of peer pressure and cracked and gave in. I know I have. It is normal to experience peer pressure and have the urge to fit in. I think that it is important to remember that the peer pressure you feel cannot be a good thing. You don’t gain anything valuable from it. It can ruin your life or hurt someone very deeply. You should make your own choices and go with what you believe is right.

I believe that there are still peer pressures as an adult. I used to think that when I was no longer in school that it would go away. I haven’t personally really felt too much peer pressure from my friends. Maybe on occasion when it comes to who I am friends with, I strongly believe that everyone has a choice who to be friends with, unless they are just a horrible person.  Even then you make the choice to not be around your friend’s friend. You should still be friends with your friend because of your own reasons. I wouldn’t suggest if the person is a criminal or does other questionable things that you should engage in that behavior. I will be writing a post about a girl I once considered a friend and possible warning signs of what is not OK in my opinion. I am no longer friends with the so-called friends that pressured me about who I was friends with.  I no longer feel peer pressure to do drugs or drink, I am not a drug addict so it is not a desire of mine at all. When I go out with friends, I don’t feel like I have to keep up with them buy drinking an insane amount of alcohol, because it is not my style.

I think that it is important to talk to your children about peer pressure and the dangers of those things. I was watching Boy Meets World and they were talking about peer pressure in an episode. I am sure your kids will say that they will never drink or do drugs, but when you are faced with it, and wanting to fit in, saying no might not be that easy.  Honesty is important when you are talking to your children about those serious topics. I am not saying they need to know about everything but if you open up to them, they will open up to you.  Spend some time explaining why you think that it is a bad idea. Open communication is extremely important.  I know I have said this before and I am sure I will say it again at least five more times, but I highly recommend you watch the movie Requiem for a Dream with your teenage child. It shows the real life consequences of drugs, sex, and addiction. It is not a movie that makes drugs look like fun or look cool. I know that everyone parents differently, but that is just what I think would work best in my family.
Do you still feel peer pressure as an adult?

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Used to Work in Child Care.

Before I was a mom, I worked in day cares and preschools.  I remember when there was a holiday or it was Teacher Appreciation week, I would get gifts. Now call me old fashioned but the smile of a young child was enough of a gift to me.  I received all kinds of gifts from homemade cookie jars full of cookies to flowers and an occasional gift card or two. Sometimes, the gift card is for a place I don’t shop at.  I remember receiving a Starbucks gift card at one point and call me crazy but I am not a Starbucks fan.  I just have never been big on Starbucks so really it isn’t my thing. Another time I received a Talbot’s gift card, I have never found anything I was interested in there, their clothes are not my style, I am more of a t-shirt and jeans girl.  I really am grateful for the gifts I receive but sometimes I don’t know what to do with the gift cards. My mom loves Starbucks so I usually hook her up with those we will sometimes do a gift card exchange where she will give me one of her unwanted gift cards, or if a friend has one I can use we trade.

When you can’t find a friend or family member to trade with there are sites online that are happy to help you sell your gift cards. I have seen them on eBay before but I am very leery when it comes to buying things of value on eBay because they could go and spend the balance between your purchase and send you an empty card. Those sites come in handy if you don’t have a bank account and you can’t use PayPal. I remember a time that I wanted to order some clothes from Victoria’s Secret and I had to go to the store and buy a gift card, it was a pain to make an extra trip. I know with a gift card exchange site they work hard to verify the amounts, so you can not only sell your gift card but you can also buy them. 
What is the craziest gift card you have ever received?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ATTN: Parents with Tablets...

If you are a parent that owns a tablet, an iPad, or even a smart phone, you will want to take special note of this post. Remember it read it often, this is important.  I like most parents, let my five year old use my tablet, to play games, take care of his fish, and draw. I always am monitoring what he is doing, with him right next to me, but I am usually on my laptop doing work related things. I am not 100% watching what he is doing every single second, but make sure that he isn’t doing something he shouldn’t. Not that he would purposely do something he shouldn’t that would endanger him, come on he is five.  It is part of our daily ritual for him to ask to use my tablet to check on his fish and play the plane game.  I of course can’t resist his smile especially when his cheek dimple is present. I am putty in my five year old's hands.  He has an allotted amount of tablet time each day, if he misbehaves that is the first thing to go. 

You can of course purchase games, apps, coins and credits for certain things. I had some extra money left over so I thought, hey I will let Noah upgrade his plane game and get him some coins and bucks for his fish game.  I wasn’t going to attach it to my bank account because I had this fear, I don’t know if it was because I remember when my old best friend’s son got a hold of my phone and downloaded a few ring tones, that I had to pay for. It was only like 5 or 6 bucks no big deal.  I was not under any circumstances have that linked to my bank account. So, I had a prepaid credit card that I used.  I am a smart cookie, because I signed on gmail, which is what my Android account is linked to, so I could talk to one of my greatest friends Lee. I never really sign on it ever, unless it is to use gchat. I noticed in my email there were a few extra purchases made. One being one million coins on Tap Fish for the price of $99.99, which was a purchase made by my five year old trying to magically get coins. Either that or he thinks I am made of money.  There wasn't that much left on the card, I think there was like 90 cents. So, it was cancelled, thank God. I used to “magically” get him coins by selling fish at night when he was asleep. He would freak out if he knew I was selling them. I was mom during the day and fish pimp at night.

Here is my important advice, if you have a tablet; it takes literally three taps for your child to put you in financial ruin. You should use a prepaid credit card for this. Seriously, you will thank me later. Never have it linked to your bank account, a normal credit card, or Paypal, if they take Paypal. Now I know it is annoying to go to the store and there is a fee of like $5, but it is so much easier than finding out that adorable child you brought in this world took your hard earned money and fighting the bank and the app people. It is worth your sanity. TRUST ME.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shopping With Printable Coupons

I am sure you guys know how much I love to save money and use coupons. I do a lot of online shopping especially when I am shopping for my brother in law who loves camping. Camping stuff is so expensive so I like to use  a REI coupon when I shop for gifts for him. We all know about coupon codes but what about when you are going to an actual store? Sometimes it is cheaper for me to go to a store and avoid the shipping charges depending on what I am buying.  Sometimes it is something that I can’t wait for it to be shipped and it is easier just to go there and pick it up. Well, I like to save money at the store too. That is where printable coupons come in. They are coupons you can print from your printer at home.  When I started really getting in to online shopping and store coupons, I signed up for everything under the sun, to get coupons.  It would make for a hefty inbox full of stuff that I might have used once at a particular store.  For example I bought a gift and it was from a store that I would personally never shop for myself, last year. I signed up for the newsletter to save some money and I still get the emails every week. That’s why I prefer sites  that do all the work for me and most importantly, no hundreds of weekly emails.

Do you use printable coupons when you shop? I look forward to your thoughts.