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The results are in...?

I've been attempting to put off this post as if I were a child trying to waylay an inevitable scolding.  Allow me to introduce you to my new computer.  I only bought the tower portion (a new monitor can come later), and with a 3-year warranty plan the final price ended up at $909.  More than I wanted to pay, yes, I admit.  And no, I don't buy something this expensive, take it home and plug it in and content myself with "Weee! Shiny!!"  I want to be happy with my purchase, and my computer is an essential part of my everyday life (more so than any other form of entertainment, certainly).  And the thought has already crossed my mind that I may end up taking this system back, buy a cheaper one, and simply purchase a superior graphics card (which would equal to much the same price).  I have 7-days to test it out before the return policy expires. 

Img_0517_2This, as well as the comments I'm sure are coming, have kept me from posting about my purchase thus far - I'm just not that sold on my sale just yet.  But give me a couple more days and we shall see; perhaps it's just Windows Vista (which is something I have also avoided) that is throwing me off.  As you can guess from the picture, my life is in general disarray at the moment.  

You can browse the system specs in the link above, for those who are interested or have any comments/recommendations.  This was purchased at Brandsmart, who offered it $60 cheaper than at Best Buy.  The full package, w/ monitor and without taxes, was about $1350.  I figure I can pick up a nice monitor later down the road, and at a discounted price.

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 05:31 PM on April 30, 2008 in Impulsive spending , Savings , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (4)

Apparently "PC" doesn't mean "pretty cheap"

Yesterday I had swung by GameStop (since it seems GameStop is the new Starbucks, and there is one on every corner) to see if I could pick up any new PS2 multi-player games through which I could beat the crud out of Bridget.  Yadda yadda yadda, I end up leaving with a $50 PC game. 

Same old-same old, right?  But you see, Assassin's Creed is different.  Assassin's Creed is the "next gen" of PC gaming; i.e. it requires an ungodly amount of system requirements in order to run, even at a minimal level.  So much to my dismay I knew that I had no choice but to appeal to the geeks at Best Buy for a graphic/memory upgrade.

So how did all that end up to the now impending reality of me buying a new computer?  Lets break it down: I have a Pentium 4 HP.  A new graphics card = $129, and 2GB worth of memory = $200.  Also, my current computer is a "single-core processor"; don't ask me what that means (I just nod and go "uh huh" most of the time), but all computers currently produced are duo-core or above.  So even if I purchased the two graphic/memory upgrades I would still never be able to run the game properly on my system.  So add the frustration of 1) not being able to play my new game, with 2) being told that my computer is basically obsolete, and suddenly I'm throwing up my hands and saying "Take me to your computers!".  (Side-Note: It must be mentioned at this point that I am a hard-core gamer and PC-enthusiast, so being up-to-date is an important issue for me; I don't generally recommend normal computer owners to go for the kind of graphic updates that I am looking for, since it's just not necessary for everyday use.)

And before you go saying it: I'm not insane, and I'm not rich.  I do not want to (and I don't think I WILL) spend over $800 on a new computer system.  I made sure to call my dad (who is akin to an AA-sponsor) as I was browsing the aisles to let him know what I was up to, and he smartly said something along the lines of "For godsakes don't be impulsive - you can buy a computer today, but just wait for me to come home and we can browse around first".  Note the crafty use of "you can buy (insert item here) today".  I have a congenital case of Veruca Salt™, and the only prescription is more cowbell instant gratification; however, I certainly was not keen on the $1079 Best Buy recommendation.  We shall see what Costco has to offer, and hopefully I'll be able to purchase something that not only fits my basic needs of the moment (this being PC gaming), but also fits my longterm goal of maintaining my bank account.  I'll be sure to post later!

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 12:46 PM on April 29, 2008 in Impulsive spending , Savings , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (5)

This, that, and cats (again)

Img_0515 If you might be tired of hearing about cat issues, then I'm tired of writing about them.  I didn't think we had another issue, even...but since I woke up to a new post concerning Tootles, I suppose we do.  Needless to say (since it has been mentioned) the cat litter box has been moved to a more out of the way location, complete with a modesty screen (see picture).  I'm pretty good at cleaning it once a day or once every other day, and if a whiff of poop is detected that simply means she has gone "boom-boom" again and it hasn't been covered properly with litter.  Fascinating reading material, I'm sure.  But when living with any type of animal, there is only so much that can be done in regards to their toilet procedures. 

I was told recently that my entertainment center wouldn't be complete without an Xbox, but seeing as I have yet to play my PS2 buying a new gaming system is the last thing on my mind.  Also, whenever I think about an Xbox the only games I can picture are 1) Halo, and 2) Dead Rising.  Being a girl-gamer who's not a particular fan of shooting games (being that I am a chicken), I have no interest in Halo; being that Dead Rising is basically a video game-version of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, I'm dying to have it.  But seeing as the Xbox is around $280, I really have no intention of buying it.  The one draw (that being Dead Rising) is a good one, but when I'm too scared to even play the game...what's the point?  I've also been thinking: if anyone would buy an Xbox in this household, that would be Bridget.  When I was flipping the thought of buying a Playstation around in my head a few months back, she was the one to suggest I go for an Xbox instead.  Bridget has also been the one to whimper and swoon at the thought of buying Rock Band for my PS2, so we'll have to see - because while she talks it up, I have no interest or intent on buying it on my own.  Guitar Hero already frustrates the heck out of me.  But what are your guys thoughts about this?  Since I own the system, should I buy (all) the games?

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 08:32 PM on April 27, 2008 in Home decor , Impulsive spending , Pets , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (4)

Turning trash to treasure

We just got a free used barbecue grill, thanks to a family friend of Amanda's. Her dad was the one that knew about the deal and called Amanda -- apparently these people bought a new grill and needed to get rid of the old one. So her dad helped with putting it in his truck, and now we have a grill!

And Amanda was not against this "used" item, like she is with other used items, so hurray for that. The only thing is that it needs a bit of work to get it cleaned up. That's going to be my project today.

And there was an old fountain in our front that was dried up and collecting leaves. I'm still in the middle of trying to get that fixed up with help from Amanda's dad (thank goodness he knows how these pump things work).

WickerwickerwickerI also want to fix up the patio this week. There are old wicker chairs left there from before, with old cushions. Some need to be thrownWickerchairneedslove_2 out, but maybe I can stick a few in the washing machine. After  checking out the prices of cushions, we would have to spend a pretty penny to get all new cushions. Maybe we can salvage a few of these.

BrokenbarstoolThere's a barstool that is broken, but I'm thinking I can find a way to fix that, too.

There are metal pool chairs without cushions. I told Amanda I would like to find some cheap cushions for these. She says she rather just buy some new pool lounge chairs -- probably plastic so they don't need a cushion.

LoungecharandgrillWhat would you do? Spend money on a cushion for the lounge chair, or buy a new one? I saw a chair wrap thing at Bed Bath and Beyond for $30... and saw a pillowy cushion at Wal-Mart also for about $30. I think cushion is the way to go, because I doubt we'll find a new chair that cheap. But I have more bargain hunting to do before I decide.

It's almost Summer time... common stores, I'm counting on you to give me some pool/beach Summer sales! Momma needs to pretty-up this porch and soak in some rays!

Posted by Bridget Carey at 01:35 PM on April 27, 2008 in Home decor , Savings | Permalink | Comments (3)

Smelly cat, smelly cat, what have they been feeding you?

You didn't think that was the end of our cat issues, did you?

Amanda kindly moved the litter box and newly-purchased litter box screen out of the living room and into the spare bedroom, which we have now as a media room.

The door to this room directly faces my bedroom door. And what I didn't expect was that every time I walked to my room, I'd get a big 'ol whiff of cat poo.

It wasn't bad every day. Just like... every three days my eyes would water. I mentioned it to Amanda, thinking maybe it was something to do with how often the box is cleaned? I don't know these cat things. I only know dog things. And then my brother visited Friday night and said, "It smells like poop" when he went in the hallway.

You bet your sweet buns that I ran out to Publix that next morning for some deodorizers!

To be fair to Amanda, she did say a few days ago that she would buy some plug-in air freshener refills. But I couldn't wait a day longer. I was already out doing Publix shopping, and there was a buy-one-get-one free sale on Glade refills (we already had some plugs) and I also picked up some Febreze air spray.

I'm relieved to say that it worked. I plugged them in yesterday, and no more cat poo smell near my room! Sure it stinks (pun intended) to have to spend money every so often now for air fresheners, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do to avoid cat poo.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 12:52 PM on April 27, 2008 in Cleaning , Pets | Permalink | Comments (1)

A great TV breeds great entertainment

So as Bridget mentioned, I recently bought a Playstation 2.  Now, here is the thing: I already own a Wii, and while I thoroughly enjoy playing on my friends Playstation's, it has never occurred to me to actually purchase my own.  See, most of the games I love are the type that I am way too chicken to play on my own.

But then Best Buy had to go and do it.  They've set up a row of incredibly discounted PS2's by the cash registers...much like candy in a grocery store.  So even if I go shopping for something completely unrelated, I end up staring down and contemplating this new, amazingly cheap entertainment system.  What can I say, I'm easy to pull over to the Dark Side, folks.

And while I know that the PS2 is soon to be an antiquated relic of gaming yore, you really can't beat $129.99.  And while Bridget suggested that I contemplate the pricer Playstation 3, impulse spending is not only based on the "see it, want it" principle, but also on the occasional "deal" that the shopper perceives to exist.  And while $129.99 is a definite deal, $399 for a memory-limited, non-backward compatibility machine is not.  And if you didn't understand any of the latter, don't worry.  It's probably better that way.

Oh, and not only did the gaming system come with a 50%-off price-tag, but all the games for the system are also on a steady price-decline.  I just picked up (ahem) USED copies of both a Final Fantasy game, as well as Kingdom Hearts 2 (both for $17.99, as opposed to the non-used price of $19.99). And as I told Bridget, as disgusting as used items are...I don't think my $2-save on each game really matters much in the long run.  And in hindsight, I'd rather have a clean, sparkling, and new version than one that is possibly gross and defective.  After all, didn't I save enough by buying the PS2??

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 08:18 PM on April 24, 2008 in Impulsive spending , Savings , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (4)

I think I just witnessed a miracle. Amanda bought something USED!

Right after I bought the TV, Amanda stopped into BestBuy to pick up a Battlestar Galactia DVD. I waited in the car, guarding my precious.

I get a phone call from Amanda while she is in the store. It went something like this:

"Bridget! A PlayStation 2 is only $130!"

"Yeah... because it is old. I think my brother and I had one since 2001."

"But it's just sitting there, begging me to buy it! I must own it!"

So I told her to walk away and just sleep it over. That usually works for me. If I feel really strongly about something a few days later, then I'll probably get it. But I usually lose that desire after two days.

Not that long ago she bought a Wii, and there are several things she can still buy for that. And if she wanted another system, I suggested to spend money on a technology that isn't outdated. But PS3s are still very pricey and they have issues with backward compatibility of PS2 games. They still make some games for PS2, like Rock Band, so it's not that out-dated.

And her buying another system worried me. I am very easily tempted to spend money on games. My brother took the PS2 with him to college, so my temptation left me. But now it's back.

Imagine the following scenario: Out with friends, having a beer at a local family-friendly dining establishment. We're walking along the shopping center and we pass a GameStop (because there is a GameStop every two blocks where I live)... and next thing you know I'm buying a stack of used games for her PS2 while under the influence of 2-for-1 beers!

Ugggh. Willpower, Bridget. Willpower.

I get home from work the next day and she tells me she's going out to get a PS2. Well, at least she thought it over. But I think waiting that long was starting to drive her crazy, ha.

But when we get to Best Buy, I don't think she realized that she has to buy a memory card. And a second controller. And games.

The games were $20 at Best Buy, but I suggested that she check out some used games and shop around to see if there was a cheaper controller at another store.

And whaddaya know! She waited to buy games and a second controller until we drove to GameStop across the street.

I started hunting around the used PS2 controllers to find one that was in good shape for $12, but when I handed her one I think she threw up in her mouth. You see, Amanda doesn't like used things. And if she wanted a pre-owned and refurbished PS2, she could have gotten it for 70-something-bucks. But once again, that idea made her skin crawl.

But she was looking around at the used games! And *gasp* she bought USED GAMES! She once told me that she couldn't stand to buy a pre-viewed movie from Blockbuster, but now she just got two USED GAMES AND SAVED MONEY!

She didn't save money on the controller, but that's OK. Baby steps, Amanda. Baby steps.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 03:49 PM on April 24, 2008 in Shopping | Permalink | Comments (7)

Bridget helps the economy and buys a TV!

LcdhdtvI've bought a TV! Thanks for voting, folks. Looking at the results, it seems most of you wanted me to buy a new one now, so I'm glad you support this purchase.

Waiting and shopping around -- my traits that Amanda hates -- has helped me find a great deal on a 32" Sylvania LCD! I got it for $498.88 at BrandsMart AND it came with a free year of HDTV service from Comcast, so we upgraded. With tax it came to $528.81. It was clearly the best deal after looking around for several days.

Amanda was with me, and the salesman didn't even finish talking before she shouts out "SOLD! WE'LL TAKE IT!" and I'm giving her the "I'm gonna kill you" eyes and hitting her to be quiet. But she was right - it was a very good deal.

I paid for it all. Amanda offered 50/50 so that she would ease the burden of the payment and that I would eventually pay her back to own it, but I thought that was silly. I'm glad she was with me, because I almost spent another $70 on some two-year warranty. If it wasn't for her, I would have wasted $70. With computers, phones and mp3 players, I'd get the warranty. With this TV, I'll live dangerously.

Driving back home, I was full of anxiety about the purchase. But as soon as we turned that TV on, I was so happy. I mean seriously... I was prancing around the couch. That's friggin' happy.

We really needed a TV, and I'm very satisfied with the purchase. Considering I didn't want to wait seven months for a holiday sale, I think I got the best deal in town. Plus I'm helping the economy! Hurray!

Posted by Bridget Carey at 08:54 AM on April 23, 2008 in Savings , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (1)

Don't care how, I want it nooooow!

In a brief response to Bridget's latest trash talking, when I suggested we split the new TV purchase 50/50 I wasn't suggesting that we engage in another catfight at the end of our time together in order to decide who inevitably gets full ownership.  In fact, I even told Bridget that she can have the TV; I was simply trying to be nice and chip in half the cost so that she doesn't freak out so much over buying such a pricey item.  So, we'd split it 50/50 (ideally, we both pay around $300 each) and whenever we move out she just pays me back my portion and keeps the TV - that way the cost would be spread out and she'd be less likely to suffer from her ever-constant post-shopping guilt.  I was just trying to lighten the load of stress on her shoulders!

Is this idea SO crazy???  I didn't think so.

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 11:01 PM on April 21, 2008 in Impulsive spending | Permalink | Comments (6)

A TV drama: Fix it, or buy new? You vote!

Why did I have to open my big mouth to Amanda that I was looking at TVs? Our original living room TV, a big box set that was here when we moved in (aka her grandfather's TV), stopped working about two weeks ago. Right as we were about to move in, this thing kicks the bucket. So in the meantime, we put a smaller 20-inch in the empty spot -- a bed-roomish size TV.

But it's not working out. It just looks... too small. I figured we would deal with it... but when we want to play the Wii, people have a hard time seeing from the distance of the couch.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how much an LCD would cost. The lowest priced 32" 720 p I found was a $570 Dynex at Best Buy.

I've been wanting a cool TV to impress guests, but that's a lot of money. So I figure, hey, I can wait until the holiday sales. The tiny TV now won't kill us.

But I had to open my big mouth to Amanda this morning. She now wants one... rather *NEEDS* one. Amanda "Veruca Salt" Conwell Needs it nooooow.

Our conversation at breakfast this morning went something like this:

Me: "Well... I wanted to wait until it went on sale during Thanksgiving."

Amanda: "Wait?! We can't wait! Living with that small TV is like living in Slovakia! It's like sh**ing in a hole!"

Then I said, OK, so you want to pay $600 for one?

Her reply: We should do it 50/50.

NO WE SHOULDN'T DO A TV 50/50! You got to have ownership of these big ticket items. If I'm spending money on a TV then I want to own the damn thing when I move. Or she should own it all so there isn't a question of who owns it.

Plus it's a problem if we both want it when we move apart.

Fixing the current TV could be a waste of money. Dragging it to a repair shop and then paying just to have someone give us an assessment of how much it will cost... bleh. And if we're going to spend a few hundred to get it fixed, why not spend more to get a really nice one that has HD.

Amanda already ran out to Costco to check prices, and she wants me to go with her to BrandsMart this evening. Oh boy. What do you think I should do? Vote on the poll below. Spend money with her to fix it, buy a nice (but cheapest one you can find) now, or wait until Thanksgiving and tell Amanda if she wants it now she should buy it herself?

Posted by Bridget Carey at 05:45 PM on April 21, 2008 in Home decor | Permalink | Comments (2)

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