Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trip to the Mall, with my daughters!

Going to the mall by myself and spending practically nothing there was breeze. Going with my daughters and spending only about 300lps was a much complex task
Last weekend we went to not one but several malls with my daughters because we had two things to do. The oldest one wanted a replacement cellphone for the one that got stolen from here last year. She's been using a simple one but she says shes tired of it, I guess the word would be bored. Also it's from another company and when I give her balance for it, it doesn't last long as it used to. Her friends that had numbers with that company have returned to the one they had before.
Also my youngest daughter wanted a board game as a present for children's day, which in Honduras is Sep 10.
So imagine two girls, one wanting a brand new cellphone and another one a fun filled board game.
I will write it shortly because just remembering how my legs ached after walking thru stores and stores makes my legs ache again.
For the cellphone I was decided not to buy one, I was going to use either my points, my credit card points or my loyalty benefits to get one. After visiting several Tigo customer service stores we found out that I was out of points and my credit card points were not enough for the types of cellphones my daughter wanted. She wants basically a phone that can also play music, typical teenager cellphone.
I found out that my loyalty benefits for her phone numbers would allow for a new phone until march 2010, she was not to happy about that. My own number would allow for a new phone in october, however my dad's number would allow for a phone right away. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the only store where they could do that process was closed until monday.
She wasn't happy waiting for october either but she was happy that I could get her a phone soon. After that she understood that even with the loyalty plan I couldn't get her an expensive one cause I have to pay the taxes on any phone I get thru the loyalty plan and also it was not going to happen that saturday. I think next weekend we will try again at the right Tigo store and with an open mind to models and prices.
The lesson for me was not to give in to buying just because my first options were out, but rather look some more.
Money spent on new cellphone: zero, so far because there is no new cellphone. Oh and her new phone will be rate controlled to about $10 a month or so.
I immediately had to apply the lesson learned with my youngest daughter. We continued shopping and we went to the Hyper Paiz at Cascadas Mall and there were several games she wanted, the cheapest one was about 700lps, way above the 300lps I had set as the soft limit and even above the 400lps I had as a hard limit.
My strategy with her was to let her know that I wasn't going to spend a lot of money on a board game but that we could look at all the games and talk it out and decide on a game. She wasn't going to impose a game on me and I wasn't going to impose a definite price on her (even if I had a limit on my mind). So after the first ones at Paiz were too high I told her we should keep looking in other stores making a mental note of what we found there.
We went to Lady Lee and found some less expensive games but still around 550lps and they weren't in good condition. We went then to a Carrion store and looked at the games there and we finally settled on a nice Bingo game for L200lps. she liked it because it had the big wheel with all the balls inside, I saw it was in good condition and the price was right.
I think an important part was that I didn't outright said no to the first reasonable games. I said "I think those are too expensive, let's keep shopping". So that relieved her of feeling like she wouldn't get a game, just not that game.
After all that walking, I saw them both tired and even though the youngest one was happy with the game, the oldest one was a bit sad of not getting a cellphone that day but not too sad. So i said let get some ice cream. At 22lps each it was 66lps for the three of us. That was all that I spent besides the 200lps for the game. We left the house at about 1pm and came back at about 5:30pm. A whole afternoon having spent only 266lps and bringing back two happy, tired kids. I was amazed myself!
I hope to write soon about the differences in options available to manage debt here in Honduras vrs the US. For that I have to let some thoughts simmer thru.
See you soon

Friday, September 11, 2009

Trip to the Mall

I had a good experience at the mall today.
First of all I walked there from work since it's relatively close. saves me gas and headache of finding a parking space and it's good exercise.
Second I went there and felt relief of not feeling any urge to buy anything. I could've gone with my credit cards and I don't think I would've used them. I actually went there with a bunch of cash from a payment I couldn't make.
I roamed the hallways and looked into the stores and as usually the ones with low prices had a lot of people in them, the ones with expensive stuff had no one inside but the employees, how do those store survive?! I guess they can still make a good profit even when they put a 50% discount on stuff.
I went to the Tigo store and it was closed for remodeling. Crap, I wanted to remove my mom and dad's cellphones from automatic debit from my Amex BAC credit card. My dad and mom pay their cellphones but sometimes they time it wrong and Tigo ends up charging me and I don't have the hard to ask them for the money back. This last time they charge me AND my dad paid too. It was one of those rare days when both things go thru into the system. That was a month ago, this new bill my dad was expecting to pay nothing since the bill came about the same. But it was charge on my CC again! So Tigo explained to him that they send the bill amount to the CC company and that credits stay there until my dad would go pay manually to the bank, then it would be posted against his next bill. This was too much and he didn't want to cause me more trouble and asked if he could be removed from auto debit AND stay in the good plan we have. I had done this one time before with a cousin and apparently it had worked so I wanted to try it out.
The usual place where the Tigo store is located was being remodeled. I roamed around and made a note to get an ice cream cone when I was ready to walk back to the office. Suddenly a huge rainstorm could be heard outside so now I was sorta trapped in there.
I've been looking for a bluetooth headset for a while trying to get the lowest cost one with good sound quality. So I went into the many cellphone stores looking for prices. I found one headset that seemed good. I wasn't going to buy today but I asked if they would take credit card points. They said yes, and they also told me they took Tigo points!
Cool! I know my mom and dad's cellphones have a bundle of those under my name so I could use them. However I told them the Tigo store was closed. "Oh no, they moved to the first floor while this place is being repaired" , they said.
Even cooler, so I went down and I first took care of the cancellation of auto debit from my mom and dad's cellphones. That will help me kill that balance off now. I called them both and they said they were happy to finally have this fixed, AND they stayed in the plan which means I still call them for free.
Then I went on to gather my Tigo points and I had about Lps 1,300 worth, which was the price of the headset. I know I had used a ton of those points before getting cellphones from Tigo for free so I was happy the balance had gone up so fast.
So I did the usual paperwork and got the good headset I wanted. Most of the points came from mom and dad's cellphones which they were ok with giving to me since they only use their phones to talk so they don't need the latest one each year or any fancy accesories.
Then I went to the ice cream store, and I was about to pay when I noticed I had only a bunch of 1lps bills..I managed to gather the 20lps to pay (didn't want to break the other money I had for the payment I couldn't do).
I toured a little more but now I was a bit itchy to get my headset charged and start testing it. So I walked back to the office under a light rain and got here all soaked. I'm still drying up.
Cancelling my mom and car auto debit from my credit card was a good thing. Getting a BT headset for points (no money) was good too , no more hiding from the police when I talk and drive! And the ice cream cone was trip to the mall , window shopping, improving my debt burden, getting a nice bluetooth headset and an ice cream cone was a total of 20lps , about $1 . :-)
Still I meditated as I was walking thru the hallways how in the past I would've charged the headset first and would worry about how to pay it up later. This time I wasn't in a hurry to buy it, actually I have been shopping for one for months now. Only because I was able to use the Tigo points, which are good only for cellphones and accessories, did I actually buy it today. I had seen the same headset in another store there and was only comparing prices and was ready to walk back to the office without it with no remorse. I even actually had a credit card with me because I needed to bring my CC to cancel the auto debit. At no time was I thinking of using it to pay for the headset today. I did asked for a CC points balance and I had about 2500 points on it. That's when they told me I could use the Tigo points.
I'm putting the credit card back in my desk drawer now. I'm not tempted to use it but it's too bulky on my wallet now and it feels uncomfortable.. :-)
This for me was a good experience, how do you think I did?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

budgets and goals

I've made a budget, two actually. I made a budget for the money I receive from my morning job, most of which goes to paying debt, another part goes to my emergency fund and to my freedom account. And a small part goes to my wife, my girls and me to feel some reward from this job.
The other budget was a quick one I made for a one-off job that I got paid for and again most of it, about 80%, went to debt payment, 10% went to the accounts and 10% to us.
The sad thing about making the budget is realizing that the first fantasy budget doesn't cut it. Going thru the bills and looking at the minimum payments and writing a permament number (not the minimum otherwise I would never get out of debt) really cuts off the money left over for savings and for self-reward.
The good thing is that following the budget is a good way to remember to pay all bills and stop the collector's calls when I get behind on payments. It's also good because on a separate sheet I write the balance, the payment i make, the interest's i'm charged and the new balance.
So last thrusday I got paid on my morning job and othe one off job! Wow a ton of money in my hands. On previous years I would've blown half of it probably and paid with the rest and then would be getting calls for other payments that forgot to make. Not this time, I got all the money into my bank and made the payments online whenever possible and the using free ATM withdrawals took out the rest of the money to pay other cards and deposit on the accounts.
I have some money left that haven't paid yet. Unfortunately I still had forgotten about two bills, a small one and a larger one. Got called for both today, so i'm reviewing the remaining money and due dates, etc. to try and cover the minimum payments. It's sad to have to work it this way because I know I might pay both bills on monday but another bill will be left behind.
The good thing is that this bill left behind will be paid in parts from my morning and day jobs until I get it to date, probably by end of september.
Another good thing, looking at my balance on my Bac Platinum card I realize that my dollar balance is about $230. Strange because I thought it would be lower. I looked and they charged me $150 for the membership renewal. I'm going to ask them to reverse it, I did that for my citibank account and they reversed it even though my credit rating with them wasn't that good. Please wish me luck, or pray or send good fortune to me in the hopes they drop that $150 charge.
IF they do drop it I will be left with $80 to pay. And my budget for that balance is $100 that comes from the second payment of the month from the morning job. SO, on october 4th or 5th I should be putting that balance to ZERO! not yet but I can see it comming. IF they don't drop it then it will be another two months (I might get the $30 elsewhere just to get that thing to zero right away) but still within sight.
Next up is making the budget from my day job, which will include the house expenses and all the stuff I pay for which is not debt. I feel this is much easier to do now that i've done the first budget.
On the political front the US has put more pressure on our country to return the ousted president. They've cut all non-humanitarian aid, are not issuing any more visas to enter the US, are not willing to recognize the november elections at this point and might cancel visas to some 1,200 honduras liked to the interim government.
I hope that my morning job doesn't get affected by this, so far it hasn't been. I hope november comes quickly and we get elections. I hope the US at least recognizes those elections so things can return to normality on January with a new president.
Tonight Honduras has a soccer match with Trinidad and Tobago. I hope they win and raise our demoralized spirits. We thought the US was our ally and right now it doesn't feel that way, but I still have hopes they will eventually help us again. OR we learn to stand up on our own feet and fend for ourselves.