it pays to be dumb sometimes

I had a bit of good luck today, even if it was because of my own stupidity I’m pretty freaking happy about it!

So I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about spending the money to go to BlogHer. Especially the part that costs the most – the plane tickets. Last time I checked it was going to cost me $370 round trip. Ouch. Even though I have my conference ticket and the hotel room booked I just hadn’t been able to bring myself to get the flight taken care of. I don’t know what I was waiting for – but I’m really glad I did.

We do our best here to not use any credit cards. We definitely have debt, but little on our cards. We consolidated all our extraneous debt awhile ago into a home equity loan and resolved not to pay for anything with credit cards. That’s worked pretty well so far, but I knew I couldn’t pay for the plane ticket with cash and I think the idea of putting on credit was what was making me insane bothering me.

Anyway, I digress. So this morning I was upset with myself when I realized that I was late making a payment on the little bit I owe on the one card we use for emergencies. Somehow I missed that they changed the due date from around the 22nd to the 15th. Can I just say WTH? I hate it when they do that! I was unhappy with Bank of America mostly for the attitude they gave me on the phone. I won’t blame them for me not paying attention to my due date, however, I do blame them for being nasty about it.

That awful conversation spurred me to call Citibank, with whom we’ve had a card for 14 years but haven’t used in awhile. I wanted to find out what the interest on purchases was and so I could use that as my emergency card instead of BoA. In the course of the conversation with a very nice woman at Citicards, she not only lowered my rate below BoA’s, (here’s the important part!) she reminded me about my points and that I should use them before they expire.

Wha??

I don’t have points accruing on that card….

Oh. Yes, apparently I do.

Well. When hubby opened that card back in college it didn’t have points, but somewhere along the way they started giving them to us. AND WE DIDN’T FREAKING KNOW IT!!

Yeah, dumb.

But apparently to my advantage.

Because guess what I did with those points?!!

Yep. I was able to buy my tickets to Chicago directly through Citibank’s point redemption network! I had enough points to get non-stop flights at the times I wanted! Woohoo!! (And I even had a few points leftover!)

No more guilt! No more whining! Yay! Almost half my trip is paid for without going into more debt! I seriously could cry I am so happy about it. I could bawl just thinking about it.

I think the moral of the story is – check your credit cards for points programs. Except everyone already knew that but me. Duh.

holiday $pending

I’m curious.

I know it seems early to ask this, but I’m really curious how everyone is planning to handle their holiday shopping this year. Especially compared to years past.

I made a decision that we’re cutting way back this year. We’ve never done really extravagant presents for anyone, even the boy, but all the little things really really add up. Part of the problem is that I end up getting a bunch of last minute things that I shouldn’t have. This year I’m planning better, budgeting better, shopping smarter, and frankly, shopping less. There will be no new camera, no new iphone, no Wii in sight. (We don’t really have video games around here, and I don’t mind keeping it that way.)

This is embarrassing to admit, but last year, I thought I did really well with my planning for presents for the boy. I found some Lego sets and action figures on clearance in September/October, hid them from him, and apparently from myself too, since I promptly forgot about them. No really, I forgot I bought them, and went and bought completely different things for him in November/December. When I found everything the week before Christmas I was pretty mad at myself. I had enough freaking toys for both Christmas and his birthday in March. Ridiculous.

That won’t be happening this year, that’s for sure.

So here’s what I want to know, how is the current economy affecting your plans for the holidays? Are you cutting back a little, a lot, not at all? Did you already cut back in recent years? If you are planning to spend less, what are your strategies, or tips for doing so?

Have you even thought about any of this yet? Am I too early to even ask the question?

I’m really very curious.

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