Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day ...

As I imagine many of you did on this fine holiday, I spent my day barbecuing with friends. I mean we created a feast. Seriously... feast. Look at my plate:

As we all contributed, my brief stint at the grocery store was fairly inexpensive. (A little more than my daily budget would like to allow, but worth it nonetheless.)

Mon 5/28/12: $14.95 for barbecue supplies.

Since I already had some of the ingredients, I figured one of my contributions would be pasta salad. (I also knew I could eat the leftovers for a few lunches this week.)

I know it's a pretty basic side dish, but I figured I would share my less-than-ten-dollar recipe.

Pasta Salad: (Approx. $8) 

- 1 bag spiral noodles ($1.09)
- 3 tomatoes (<$1)
- 1 bell pepper (< $1)
- 1 onion (<$1)
- 1 block of pepperjack cheese ($1.99)
- 1 package pepperoni ($1.55)
- Italian dressing ($0.99)

Does this really need explanation? You boil the noodles, chop up the veggies/cheese/meat, mix together and douse it in Italian Dressing. Easy, peesey, lemon squeezy.

Week three summary ...

Although I went over my daily limit a handful of times this week, I managed to balance it out with several "free days."

The grand total for spending for week three comes to a sum of $56.92

Yah, that's right, suckers ... $13.08 UNDER my weekly allowance. It wasn't always fun, but I did it. I will probably use this money to contribute to another grocery shopping trip this week. My cabinet is looking a little Old Mother Hubbard-ish.

Weekend tally ...

As it was a holiday weekend, I figured it was time to get out of the city. I knew I had a little extra spending money saved from the week, but I wasn't going to worry about holding back.


My friend Laura and I took the trek out to Astoria for the first time. I spent a significant amount of daily money on snacks for the car ride, but it was a long drive.

We spent the day seeing the "sights." (And aside from lunch, everything was free.) Astoria isn't the most booming town ever, but it has its charm. Our first stop? 'The Goonies' house, duh! Although Laura wasn't as thrilled, it definitely tickled my fancy.

See ... look how happy I am:

After we saw and conquered, we headed to The Astoria Column, which is essentially a lighthouse on the highest point in town, offering 360 degree views of the area. Besides crapping my pants due to the height situation, the climb up was worth it.

Other adventures led us to a pioneer cemetery, sketchy gas stations, and of course lunch.

So, lets get to the point. Total spending for the day ...

Sat 5/26/12: $30.14 for snacks and lunch. (-$20.14)


I spent Sunday catching up on the all the things I meant to get to the rest of the week. (A mountain of dishes, laundry, sweeping, etc.)

However, I was recently offered some work on the side, and spent a few hours doing that as well, which leads into my new justification.

Since I have a little more income, and Sunday was my first bout of that, I canceled out my $9 worth of drinks out with friends that evening. I guess it's technically cheating, but I made it to the end of a long week, and I'm counting it as a free day, dammit.

Sun 5/27/12: $0 because I say so. (+$10)

Crafty weekdays ...

I clearly have some catching up to do on my spending from last week. Let's start with the weekdays ...


Another "free day," technically. Although I spent my morning at the doctor's office dealing with the Pink Eye my kids gave me, I had a little bit of time before needing to return to work. I couldn't resist grabbing a coffee and a muffin. However, I got crafty with it. Earlier in the week, I happened to find a pre-paid gift card in my wallet with a whole five bucks on it! I also, realized I still had a giftcard to Heart Coffee my boss had given me months ago. Took care of both cravings without actually spending any of my own money.


With the lack of spending I had been doing this week, I knew I had a little extra to spare, but was still trying to be careful, so I could indulge over the weekend. But, when I opened my bagged lunch from home that day, I just couldn't stand eating leftovers one more time. I let myself splurge and bought Subway for lunch instead.

But, uh oh! Surprise! I ran out of tampons and milk that day. (And maybe it had something to do with the tampon situation, but I couldn't control my urge to buy chips either.)

I went a little over my limit, but not by much.


Maybe it's because I went over my limit on Thursday, or maybe it's because I actually do have some kind of self-control, but I managed to stay under budget on Friday night. I hustled my co-teacher for a haircut in exchange for Red Bulls to fuel our weekly energy needs amidst eight needy one-year-olds. Then, only drank one Rainier at the bar later that night, while catching up with a friend from college.

The Run-Down:

Wed 5/23/12: $0 even with coffee and muffins. (+$10)
Thurs 5/24/12: $17.82 for lunch, lady-needs, and late-night snacks. (-$7.82)
Fri 5/25/12: $7.84 for a hair-cut and a tall-boy. (+$2.16)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free day ...

Total spending for the day? Nothing, suckers! I'm getting good at this shit.

Tues 5/22/12: $0 for squat. (+$10)

But don't think you're going to get away with only reading that good news. After "constructive" conversation with my dearest friend, Sharon, I've decided to make this blog a little more exciting.

I'm not going to say I'm making a schedule for creative posts, (because God knows I can barely manage to just write about spending), but I will now be adding cheap outing ideas and recipes that last for days. (Seriously, I made a pasta salad last week that I ate for three lunches in a row.)

So here's my first (and favorite) free activity to do in this city:

Sunset on the bluffs
Or as my friend Laura likes to call it, "Beers at Hipster Park."

As an unofficial offshoot, of Overlook Park, the bluffs are definitely a gathering point in NE. You're almost guaranteed to see someone you know there.

There's a reason for that, though. The park overlooks the river, facing West, so you can catch the sun going down over the hills. There's a pretty stellar view of the cityscape to the south, and a nice grimy vibe from the industry happening below the bluffs and to the north. (Plus, you can watch tugboats float by. Oh wait, that may only be interesting to me.)

As most people ride their bikes there, it's totally acceptable (and presumed that you will) stash a few beers in your messenger bag.

So, besides the cheap beer stashed in your bag, this event costs nada. Now only if the sun would reappear ...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Oh, Mondays ...

Nothing exciting to report on today. (Don't worry, Sharon ... I'm working on a weekly "fun" schedule.)

Mon 5/21/12: $5.56 for lunch. (+$4.44)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Sunday count ...

I spent the day cooking, doing laundry and watching movies. Lame? Yes. But I didn't spend any money.

Week two spending: $76.20.

Eh? Eh? Not so bad. I had some extra income (rollover money and a sold bike lock), that factored into this week's spending, but even with that, I'm feeling pretty ok with only being $6.20 over my limit.

Yikes ...

Maybe it's because I didn't buy any snack food on my last grocery trip, but I craved junk all weekend. I held out on Friday night, only stopping by the grocery store for beer and a missing ingredient for dinner, but I let loose yesterday.

I knew I had about $35 dollars to spend for the weekend, so I agreed to take part in a golf-themed pub crawl that involved a lot of beer-chugging. Well, beer-chugging has always led to money-spending for me.

After drinking a handful of PBR's, and thinking about how I just got paid, I allowed myself to spend a little more money than planned. And you know what? I don't feel bad about it. I'd been good all week, and I didn't go crazy ... I just let myself order food from the carts and have that extra beer at the end of the night.

Even with my indulgences last night, I realized I hadn't gone much over my weekly budget so far.

(I've managed to not spend any money so far today, but I'll check-in again at the end of the night for a weekly total.)

Here are the numbers for the past two days:

Fri 5/18/12: $11.83 for meat and beer. (-$1.83)
Sat 5/19/12: $40.30 for beers, dinner, and a grand ole time, dammit. (-$30.30)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nothing of consequence ...

Had an after work beer with a friend this afternoon. Even drank Rainier to cut costs. Good God.

Thurs 5/17/12: $3.50 for a drank and my two step. Oh, and a tip. (+$6.50)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hump Day ...

"Let me remind you, I don't pay rent."

Ahhh, and so began a night out with my good friend David. Although I felt guilty about letting him put two drinks on his tab, I love him for it. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Guys, seriously. I have the best friends, ever.

David has been reading my blog and supporting me in my efforts. When a night of catching up was on the line, he forced me to stay within my budget. (I tried to pay him back with some tall boys at my house, but somehow I don't think that counts.)

I did buy milk and eggs today, but managed to still have fun under ten dollars.

Wed 5/16/12: $5.10 for dairy. (+$4.90)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The grocery trip ...

With some very careful planning, I executed my first grocery run on a budget yesterday. 

First, I made a list of large meals that would last for a few days. (Pasta salad, meatloaf, tacos, etc.) 

Secondly, I made a careful list of all the ingredients I would need for these, and forced myself to only purchase things already on the list. (Ok, I bought a frozen pizza. Sue me. It was on sale for $2.78.) 

And last of all, I shopped at the cheapest grocery stores imaginable. And yes, I said stores. I went to two different places and bought food according to where I could get it cheaper.

The grand total, you may ask? $44.45.
That seems like a large chunk of my weekly budget, but let's factor in some other cash flow:

1. Last week, I was $18.94 under budget. I decided to roll this amount over into this week, because I knew grocery shopping was looming in the near future. (That gives me a total spending limit of $88.94 this week.)

2. Factoring in the extra eighteen dollars, my grocery trip was really only $25.51 from my weekly budget. ($15.51 over my daily budget.)

3. A co-worker mentioned she needed a bike lock yesterday. Because of my own stupidity, and a long story, I recently bought a new lock I didn't end up needing. Today, she gave me $15 for it. (Don't worry, Deborah. I won't cash that check until payday.)

And that's what you call almost breaking even, my friends.

Let's see the rundown for yesterday and today:

Mon 5/14/12: $45.49 for groceries and a soda at lunch. (-$26.55 including rollover money)
Tues 5/15/12: $3.92 for Red Bulls (+$21.08 including bike lock money)

All things considered, and all my whacky math aside, I have $54.53 to spend for the rest of the week without going over budget. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

And that's a wrap ...

Total spending for the day went to chips and salsa.

Sun 5/13/12: $5.25 for SNAX, bitch. (+$4.75)


Total weekly spending = $51.06. That settles me at $18.94 BELOW my target goal for the week. Fuck. Yes.

I'm scraping deep into my kitchen cabinets though. I made a can of tuna that's been kicking around for months for tomorrow's lunch. With a grocery trip looming in my near future, I'm considering rolling my $18.94 over into next week's allowance. I will have to do some careful meal planning before my next foray into the aisles of Fred Meyer. Well maybe Grocery Outlet, at this rate.

Cheap holidays ...

With a little extra spending money on hand for the weekend, due to being under my limit all week, I splurged and spent a whole $14 yesterday. As it finally felt like summer in Portland yesterday, I headed to the river with my friend Beth, whom I haven't seen in a while. In celebration, I made a 711 run.

Sat 5/12/12: $14.39 on beer and snacks. (-$4.39)

Still under my $70 weekly allowance, though!

Even more impressive (if I do say so myself) is that I made it through two consecutive holidays without spending money excessively. (Mother's Day and my roommate's birthday.) Lucky for me, I love to geek out on crafting and the people I love are cool with homemade presents.

Mostly because I was held hostage at Mount St. Helens being a begrudgingly good daughter, my spending total is zero for the day, so far. I'm heading back to PDX for some girl-time with Stephanie, who apparently has some juicy stories for me. This might entail some moola for Sunday Funday activities.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

First Friday ...

It helped that I was super tired, but my lame Friday night turned into saving money.

Usually, I end up at a bar, not even considering what my tab might be. However, last night I caught some of my little brother's baseball game and had dinner at a girlfriend's house.

(Side Note: My friends are awesome. They are being totally supportive of my quest and are open to bending plans so I can live cheaply. I mean Jesus, Laura made me dinner last night!)

Although I did buy $25 worth of gas last night, I've already budgeted that into my monthly bill expenses.

Conversely, I also bought some PBR tallboys. It was Friday, after all.

Fri 5/11/12: $6.29 for beer. (+$3.71)

So far this week, I've been positive in my savings every day. Since I've spent less than $10 a day for the past five days, I'm actually up $18.48, which technically means I can spend $38.48 this weekend and stay within my goal.

I'm off to see an old friend though ... sometimes money flows when we're together.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Details ...

After airing my challenge to my peers, my friend Stephanie made a good point I've been struggling with myself:

How do groceries and gas factor into my budget?

I was hoping I would be able to include both of those into my $10 limit, but the more I did the math, the less feasible it seemed. I spend approximately $25/wk on gas and $40/wk on groceries. That's pretty much my weekly allowance. However, these are staples, so I'm now considering factoring them into my monthly bill budget.

On the other hand, I think I'm going to attempt to work groceries into my ten-a-day limit, on a trial basis. I will just have to shop more carefully and completely eliminate eating out on weekdays. No more trips to Subway or Whole Foods on my lunch break. 

Today's spending? ZERO, so far! Don't get too excited though. It is Friday, and it's been a looong week. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In the beginning ...

Let's be real, I've never really ever had money. I grew up poor. I went to college. I learned how to live on a budget. Now, at 24, I'm spending more than I should.

Guys, I'm tired of always being broke.

I work full-time as a pre-school teacher, but it's certainly not making me rich. As my co-workers like to say, "it's a job of the heart." I cringe every time I have to pay my bills. I die a little bit inside every time I dream about traveling.

One day as I religiously searched Craigslist for better paying jobs (that I'm actually qualified for), I realized that I do like my job in all reality. My kids are rockstars, I don't work weekends and I get paid holidays.

So, I was stuck in between a rock and hard place: quit my job and make a living, or do what I love. I realized something had to change, but it wasn't necessarily my career path.

What needed to change were my spending habits.

I'm a creature of pleasure. I have a hard time saying no to fun. I don't like worrying about money. However, it's time for me to suck it up and start living within my means.

After calculating my monthly expenses and my income, I realized I should be saving more money than I am. Where was all my extra money going? Answer: stupid shit like booze and restaurants.

Epiphany! If I stopped spending money on a whim, I'd have more to save for things like traveling and special occasions.

So, I set a goal. I will try to live on ten dollars a day. (This is with bills like rent, insurance, credit card and cell phone aside. I had already factored these costs into my income.)

Honestly, it's not something I'm super excited about. On the other hand, I figured if I made it public, it would be more like a game. If I put it out there, I would have to be more accountable than only answering to myself. (I'm really good at talking myself out of sticking to goals.)

So, here's the plan ...

I'm keeping a notepad in my purse at all times to keep track of how much money I spend each day. In one week, I've allowed myself to spend $70 on superficial shit. I will try to spend ten dollars or less a day, but the ultimate goal is that I'm not spending more than $70 a week.

This is a total experiment, so bare with me. I'm hoping that even though I may absolutely hate it at first, it will just become a part of everyday life.

Here's my week so far:

1. Mon 5/7/12: $6.06 at Fred Meyer for snacks to pull me through an all-day teacher training. (+$3.94)
2. Tues 5/8/12: $6.35 miscellaneous convenient store junk. (+$3.65)
3. Wed 5/9/12: $4.78 for art project supplies at Goodwill and two sodas for movie night with a girlfriend. (+$5.12)
4. Thurs 5/10/12: $7.94 for lunch and much needed Red Bulls for my co-teacher and I. (+$2.06)

Maybe it's the new excitement of my project, or maybe I can really do this, but so far I'm not in the red. We'll see what weekend debauchery brings.