Valdosta Daily Times

Business

April 7, 2013

Brittany's Budget Diary: Still unemployed and still fabulous! I’m an anomaly

VALDOSTA — Well budgeteers, I’ve been in Savannah for 18 days and so far, I still love it. The plethora of restaurants, the live music, the malls, it’s a girl’s dream come true and a budgeteer nightmare all rolled into one as there are places to spend money at every corner I turn. Unfortunately, I’m still unemployed and living in my parent’s house but I am closer to a job than when we last spoke.

I told you about my Skype interview last week that went wonderfully and this week, I had a full blown three hour interview for a position as a social media coordinator and writer at an institution of higher learning. It went fantastic! I feel super confident about everything and hopefully it works out because honestly, while I love free stuff, I don’t love free food and housing on my parent’s tab. However, I have always wanted to be a bar regular and say “put it on my tab, Bill.” I’ve been able to do that a few times with my parents and while I feel like a ‘40s mobster, it doesn’t necessarily solicit the humor I was going for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m adorable but my Chihuahua can only poop in my dad’s office so many times before my allure begins to wear off.

Despite not having any money to budget with, I have learned some personal finance lessons as a result of my move. Here are a few things I have learned that hopefully you can file away for the next time you shuffle off and go.

• Don’t put monthly bills on automatic debit.

While this seemed like a grand idea between my busy life as a news reporter and my husband’s hectic police schedule, I quickly found a down side after I moved. Even though I cancelled certain services, my account was still being debited. Sure, these places eventually have to give me my money back but it’s like pulling a tooth from a rabid beaver to get it. As I do for all of my life’s challenges, I turned to my savior Clark Howard. According to him, automatic debits are a no, no. Giving authorization for a business to regularly draft an account is an open-ended arrangement, regardless of the contract. The problem with automatic debits is that there are no consumer protection statutes governing what happens if you are cheated on purpose or on error. It will be a pain to have to remember to pay my bills on top of everything else I’m doing (like catching every episode of Real Housewives of Orange County) but there is a solution: Electronic bill pay. Most banks (such as USAA) offer this and it’s so simple. I set all of my bills up through their bill pay system and I can pay everything without having to jump around from website to website. It’s also a great way to not lose control because you can stop payment by just simply not paying. Score!

• Eating out does more than just rob your bank account.

Towards the end of my stint in Valdosta, I got really bad about eating out. We were living out of boxes for like a month. I was constantly packing and painting and a quick meal seemed like an easy fix. Well, this doesn’t happen often, but I was wrong. Since living with my parents, I have been cooking every night and I have saved so much money. At the time, that $10 dinner may not seem like a lot but trust me, it adds up. Also, in just 18 days I have lost 10 pounds. I don’t work out, run or do pretty much anything, I just stopped eating cheeseburgers and chicken strips.

• Need help finding a home? There’s an app for that.

If this job pans out (and I will find out next week), hopefully me and the hubs will be up and out of the parent’s compound fairly soon. In the mean time, I’ve been searching for homes to buy and to rent. We’re not exactly sure what our options are yet, but we have been preparing a list of properties in the meantime by using Zillow and Trulia. These apps are great because whether you’re renting or buying, you can set a price range and they will show you a list of homes in your desired area and price range. Especially in Savannah, it’s been overwhelming trying to find affordable housing that doesn’t run the risk of me getting stabbed. I mean, safety is important, but $1,500 a month for a one bedroom apartment . . . Ain’t nobody got time for that!

It isn’t much my budgeteers, but what do you expect from a jobless 24-year-old living with her parents? Keeping my sanity is like grasping for straws and my personal finance secrets are all I have right now. I can’t give them all away at once (or think of any more). I don’t have many adventures these days but at least I can say with absolute certainty that it could be worse. I mean, I could have spent $9 to see Oz: The Great and Powerful like most of you . . . But I didn’t and therefore am still a better person.

I will keep you posted on whether I get the job or not via Facebook. Until then, follow my unemployed journey on Twitter @VDT_Brittany and like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrittanyDenneyMcClure.

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