Archive for October, 2008

50 Percent

I was trying to lose weight for a bit.  I started eating about half of what I had been eating at meals.  Then, if I was still hungry, I’d eat more.  It worked really well, and I discovered I felt better when I did it, because I wasn’t overeating and feeling sluggish.

It took me about two months to realize I could do this with other things.  I read a bunch of suggestions at Get Rich Slowly recently about making do with less.  What a lot of it summed up to was something very similar.  Try using half of what you normally would.  if that’s not enough, use more.  Try using half as much shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, etc.  Try getting have the subscriptions or paid services you have now maybe.  Then, if it isn’t enough, use more.  People tend to default to certain portions of things without considering that portion.  I know that every time I have gotten my hair cut after growing it long I have taken a day or two to adjust how much shampoo I need. You can also use 50% (or maybe two thirds) of things in recipes, assuming you know what you are doing.  I know a lot of people do this with sugar, and it can help with both health and budget.

So I am going to try using 50% of things for a bit and see how it goes.  If anything (including me) is less clean, I will up how much I am using.  This is going to be a goal for November.  Monday I will see if I have any more, and post how I did with October.  I think the answer is: not very well.   You?

October 31, 2008 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

Neglecting the blog

Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately. First there was the wedding, then a super busy week, then I’ve been away.

My super busy week was great though-I got up-to-date with everything at my job, so I could leave for vacation guilt-free. I am sure I will be swamped when I get home, but for now I can pretend everything is in order. And if I am not swamped when I get back I can finally do some work on some big reorganization projects I’ve been wanting to do. Yes, I love to organize. Yes, I am a big dork-I think you had that figured out by now.

I also did some freelance work and will be getting paid for it. If I can be careful with money next month I can take that whole amount and put it in my savings, which will put me less than $1000 from my initial goal. I can’t believe how close I am so quickly, it is really motivating me to try and save even more in the next few months.

In addition to getting paid for that, I made my first paid cakes! I have turned a hobby into a money making venture! Er, sort of. I actually only charged the cost of the cakes, because they were for a friend’s birthday and they were my first hired cakes. But I can use that experience in the future to make money, and at least I didn’t lose anything. On the down side (maybe) I’ve decided that since I no longer have to practice I can’t do that many cakes for free. The big cakes really cost a lot to make. I don’t mind doing it for cost, and of course my family are still going to get free cakes, but I can’t just make them all the time for whatever anymore-it really is more expensive than you’d guess.

So that was a good, productive week. And at the end, I got to go see my boyfriend and celebrate his birthday and now I am in Hawaii! Which is the most recent reason I’ve been neglecting the blog-I’m on vacation. It is very beautiful, and way too warm for me. If you’re wondering how I managed to afford going to Hawaii, well, I am a spoiled brat. My mother paid for the trip. In my defense it is a trip to visit family and she used frequent flier miles. But yes, I know how lucky I am.

I saw big turtles today.  It was awesome.  I took a photo.  True story.

I saw big turtles today. It was awesome. I took a photo. True story.

October 23, 2008 at 4:10 am 3 comments

De-slumpifying

So the wonderful Cris of www.queenofthecatpeople.com posted suggestions of ways I could save more. And I realized, I am doing these. Well, I don’t do once a month grocery shopping-I keep an eye out for coupons, buy my staples when they are on sale if I can, and then just pick up things as needed to supplement them. Since I’ve started tracking my expenses I’ve been very good about not making unplanned purchases at the grocery store unless I see a sale, so it doesn’t matter how often I go. If I try to plan too far ahead I always end up wasting something.

My faorite shot-the cake I made.  Photo by Steph Flanders.

My favorite shot-the cake I made. Photo by Steph Flanders.

And then I realized, go me. I am already doing a lot. My close friends got married, there was bound to be some expense involved. I had to pay for cake things, part of a car, part of a hotel room, and shoes. These were all optional (well, the cake really wasn’t at this point)-I could have taken a train I suppose, and not stayed in the hotel, and worn shoes I own or borrowed some. But this was not just one of the biggest days of their lives, it was one of the biggest of mine, That’s what having money is for. Ten years from now I am going to value the memories of the weekend far more than what they cost. In the meantime, most of the point of being so careful with my money is so I can spend on what I care about most, which these people certainly are.

But I knew that, and it is okay. That’s not something that’s going to set me back on a regular basis, and I won’t have to budget so tightly to make things come out okay in months where that isn’t happening. I have already planned for holiday gifts and I think my expenses shouldn’t be too bad, except for a couple people I don’t have gift ideas for yet.

I also now have cat supplies for the next several months because I decide it was more important to get the best possible price overall than to fret about my weekly budget, and buying in bulk is cheaper.

So next month I am going to try week-to-week budgeting again, but I’ll be able to give myself more leeway while staying within my overall monthly budget. And this month, I am just going to do the best I can in the remaining weeks.

I just need to focus on the good, and remind myself that big expenses happen.

October 15, 2008 at 9:40 pm 3 comments

Sick Of It

The wedding was fantastic. It was beautiful and fun, and the food was delicious. Most importantly, the couple was perfect.
*
I am sick of worrying about money. I am sicking of freaking out about whether people will pay me back for things I buy, or making a point of ten dollars between friends. I don’t like saying no and having my friends worry I can’t afford it and feel bad, or feeling awkward about that.

My budget is shot, there were a couple large expenses for the wedding that I did not take into account, and some for my cat. I am sick of entering numbers and have not been doing my old totaling up that I used to see how much I was spending on each category of thing.

I still love buying things discount, spending less, reusing things, and finding things for free. I am just burned out on keeping track, and still don’t know how to handle social expenses. I need some new motivation, or a better way to do this.

October 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm 4 comments

Five Days

I am going to be in a wedding in five days, and I am making the cake. I think I will be a bit preoccupied with that.

This week is also Yom Kippur. Traditionally the days between the Rosh Hoshannah and Yom Kippur are a time of forgiveness, apologizing, and paying off debt. What a great idea. Once a year, you go thorough and you put things in order. Of course, a lot of us are trying to do this all the time, but it is good to have the extra impetus. For me, maybe strangely, this is best for forgiving other people. It’s a good reminder to let go of grudges. Even if I’m not happy with someone, I don’t have to remain angry. I can move on. It won’t mean all is forgotten, but it does mean I won’t be dwelling on that anymore.

This year is about forgiving myself, and a large part of that is forgiving my past money mistakes. I know I spent on things I didn’t need, ate out too much, failed to gain interest by putting my money in savings and other stupid actions. But that was the past. Even if it is that drink I shouldn’t have bought last weekend it was the past. Right now I am saving, I am planning for the future, and I am watching where my money goes.

***

On another note, the in-person clothing swap was great. Not only did I end up with awesome new clothing, I also got supplies for making my Halloween costume-a sweater I can turn into a bag and a sweater I can wear, as well as an offer of paints I can use. I think at this point my total cost for my costume should be between zero and five dollars, unless I go and spend money on a new pair of sneakers. The sneakers I own aren’t right, but new sneakers could be $30 or more, and I already own five pairs of Chuck Taylor’s. So I have to be strong.

The clothing swap also went well in terms of people taking stuff. People took a ton of clothing, and I think everyone was really happy with what they got. I also had some old key chains that I was getting rid of in an attempt to de-clutter, and a futon cover. Some key chains were taken and so was the futon cover. The most exciting part was the furniture. My mom has some furniture she’s been meaning to get rid of, and I have some in my room at her house. We worked out for people to come take it next weekend. We probably could have sold it on craigslist, but this way we know it will be out soon and the people who are taking it are going to help rearrange the other furniture into new rooms for free, so that’s really exciting. The place was looking way too busy with way too much in the living room, and now this old furniture we love but don’t need will be put to use, like a dresser I don’t need because I keep my clothing at my own place now. So that was awesome!

Next up, the food swap! That will probably happen in December. In the meantime, I am wearing a new to me shirt today and it is quite comfy!

October 6, 2008 at 3:21 pm 4 comments

Free to Be

Day 1 of the new budgeting system. Wish me luck!

The Naked Cowboy

The Naked Cowboy

Yesterday I saved by getting a free “naked burrito” for lunch. Outside they had the naked cowboy singing to promote it. I think I live in a bubble, because I had never heard of the naked cowboy. If you haven’t either, the name is misleading. He wears underwear. For which I am pretty grateful, really.

Tomorrow I am saving by taking some stuff from a friend who is trying to clear the clutter. But not taking too much, because I need to fight the clutter myself.

I also ate a free Kashi cookie last night. It was pretty tasty, but I was not wild about the texture.

Sunday we may be doing the in-person clothing swap. Hopefully I can get more new (to me) clothing and keep getting rid of things. There’s a slip I claimed in the last swap that doesn’t fit, so it’s coming back, and I have some shoes to get rid of that I forgot to include.

I’m also getting free dinner Saturday night, in that I am invited to dinner. It’s pretty clever of me! Really though, I am such a dork and totally excited about all this getting of free things. Again, as long as they are free things that are actually useful and not just more clutter.

October 3, 2008 at 1:50 pm 4 comments

New Year, New Goals

Well, it’s a new month, and for some of us, a new year. As of yesterday I am feeling pretty happy with what I achieved in September.

I’ve got some big things coming up in October, but most of them are pretty unrelated to this blog. I’m going to tie them in, however. Some people have an “other half” in a best friend. I have other thirds, because I am twice as lucky. One of my other thirds is getting married this month, and that’s going to be most of my goals and energy for the next two weeks. It relates in terms of balancing the budget for the month, but also because she’s going to be doing a series of guest posts on doing a frugal wedding. I think a lot of her tips are great not just for wedding planning, but for any big event you might have.

Meanwhile, I have some goals related to the blog and saving money.

1. Implement my new weekly budget system and stick to it. Since having the same budget every week didn’t work because my life varies from week to week, I’m going to implement a new system starting Friday. My budge last month was $50 a week, not including rent/utilities, cable/internet, or the cost of food and such I already owned. This month my budget will be $54/$76/$77/$38. Which means I am going to need my Halloween costume for very cheap. I can do it-two years ago I was Beaker for Halloween. I spent about $5, mostly on orange hair spray, and did so well that I won a prize for my costume. Wish me luck! Also, these numbers don’t include my boyfriend’s birthday present. I’m not putting the budget for that up, in case he reads this.

2. Use images in my blog. I always like it better when blogs have pictures, so I want more in mine. Pictures add to a point, and if I am explaining how to do a project or recipe pictures will be key. I can finally get pictures off my digital camera again, so that should help.

3. Make things new. I was inspired in part bythis post. I have a dresser that I’ve been meaning to collage. I’ve got a couch I’m not that excited about. And I’ve got some clothing that is functional but not fun. I am going to go through and see what I can do to make old things feel new to stave off the desire to buy more. That will be especially important since this a tight month between the wedding and my boyfriend’s birthday and Halloween.

I do think it is going to be hard to stick to a budget this month. I have a bit of leeway, since I am still erring on the side of smaller numbers because I would rather go over than spend up through what I have allocated. I need a better method than that, but I don’t have one yet. As I get more data on how much various things cost it should be easier to build more realistic budgets. I also have to allow for buying things this month on sale if they will be good Christmas presents.

So, what are your goals? And how are you feeling about September?

October 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm 4 comments


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