Archive | June, 2010
24 Jun

You know what’s sad?  When you think you’re going to have some money at the end of a pay period to buy yourself something pretty and then you remember that you have to order a bridesmaid dress.  So there goes $150.  Well, I guess it is pretty.  But it’s not that new hoodie that I’ve been eyeing.  But maybe if I’m really good during the next pay period…

Here is where I make a little plug for my new favorite place to go grocery shopping.  In the last several weeks, I’ve been exploring a Grocery Outlet that is on my way home from work.  I don’t know why things are so cheap there.  I have a friend who insists that they must only sell things that fall of supply trucks, which is slightly plausible since you can never count on finding everything that you need during a trip there.  You can, however, find cereal, frozen food, cheese, wine, cookies, shampoo, etc. and save a ton.  You just have to not care exactly *which* cereal or shampoo you end up buying.  They also carry produce and meat but I feel a little chary about such things.  They do have a good selection of organic brands and I’ve found the quality to be good.  I did buy a package of oatmeal that looked it had had a run-in with a boxcutter.  That was a waste.

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hard times

20 Jun

Ok, so I’ve fallen a little bit off of this frugal bandwagon.  Part of the problem, for now, is that I’m actually still working full time!  Home-cooked meals flew right out the window in the middle of last week and it’s only today that I’m finally getting back on the bandwagon.  I have some quinoa bread rising in the kitchen right now and I bought some vegetables from the co-op that I’ll be using as sandwich toppings, assuming the bread turns out.  I haven’t overspent on my daily budget yet, but I’ve been using just about every penny.  This means I have nothing left over for miscellaneous larger purchases I may need to make (new camera battery so I can put pics on my blog, bridesmaid dress for upcoming wedding).  I’m hoping that this habit is just a function of not having enough time to put a more DIY ethic into practice.  Only time will tell.

Yesterday, the boyfriend and I went window shopping for the better part of the afternoon, had dinner, and rented the documentary, Dig!, since we had hung out with some of those crazy folks the night before.  There’s something about that rock and roll lifestyle that just seems beautiful and sordid all at the same time.  It seems like the whole purpose was for them to revel in their own youth and beauty and idiosyncrasies…it’s just so poignant to see the same people now but older and a bit more worn down.  I felt envious, though, while watching the documentary of their fame and notoriety.  It put into stark contrast the workaday existence that I’m trying to change up and the fearless but slightly unhinged life that is glorified for us young-uns.

The day in money: $15.00 tip for a massage (the actual massage I had already paid for), $10 bottle of wine, $15 on hot toddies for me and the boyfriend (yeah, maybe we were drinking a little more than we should’ve)

Projects: window shopping without buying anything (that’s good right? can I count it as a project?), not much else

Music: listening to T Rex – Electric Warrior

Making it Official

15 Jun

Today I spoke with my manager about reducing my work schedule.  I wasn’t sure about how it would go over but she actually gave me a pretty enthusiastic response…er, is that a good thing?  She said that she could tell that I’ve been feeling a little bit “over it” recently and was really supportive of my wanting some more time for personal projects before starting nursing school.  The unofficial “life change” date on my horizon is August 1st, the day employees sign up for the organization’s benefits package.  I didn’t realize that I can’t opt out until the enrollment date and I can’t afford our insurance on only 3 days a week.  Instead, I’m just going to have to find my own shitty but affordable insurance elsewhere.  I’ve always been grateful for the benefits my work provides but it also seems that once a company or organization gives you insurance, they own you.  It’s scary to leave a job that gives insurance and a few of my coworkers are basically just working so that they and their families can be covered.  Work and health seem to have a close but possibly unhealthy relationship.  Are Obama’s changes going to help this?  I’m not sure.  I just know that if I had some kind of chronic condition requiring more frequent doctor’s visits and medications, my experiment would be run into the ground and never revived.  Doesn’t seem fair.

Money spent today: $18.93 on groceries and a bottle of wine

Daily projects: baked decadently sweet Coconut Toffee Chew Bars (from Cook’s Country magazine) to share with coworkers tomorrow, housecleaning (I can finally see the bedroom floor and the bottom of the kitchen sink)

14 Jun

I made my first ever successful batch of bread yesterday!  Bread-making is one of those endeavors that, to me, seems so time-comsuming and unlikely to pay off that I haven’t had much interest in it before.  But yesterday was a lazy Saturday and I thought it would be a good, frugal use of time.  I made whole wheat bread, using the instructions from The New Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook (picked up the other day from the library).  Instead of just giving a recipe and scant step-by-step instructions, the cookbook read like a short personal essay, something I normally find annoying when I just want to make some food but which I actually found helpful and comforting for something as daunting as bread-making.  I already had the yeast, oil, and honey, which means that I only had to buy about $2 worth of flour to get 2 fresh loaves of bread.  Granted, it took all day but it was a lovely day for walking around the neighborhood, visiting the coffee shop, and reading a good book.  The bread-making just sort of punctuated an otherwise aimless day.  Plus, the end result was delicious and I was able to take one loaf to a potluck later in the evening.

So, the experiment is going well so far.  I’ve managed not to spend more than what I’ve budgeted in my daily allowances and life is still feeling pretty good.  Of course that could be the sunshine we’ve (finally!) been getting.

Groceries

11 Jun

One of the big changes that I’m going to have to make is in the way I feed myself.  I can’t tell you exactly how much I spend on groceries but I know that it’s a lot, especially for one person.  I like healthy, organic, convenient, and novel foods.  I shop at the nice grocery stores and I like to “treat” myself.  Ok, I’m only willing to give up certain things about my eating habits.  The organic and healthy stuff has to stay.  As for convenience, novelty, and gucci grocery store surroundings…maybe I could make some changes.

Last night for dinner, I made a recipe for 4 servings of polenta with eggplant and tomato sauce.  The ingredients (bulk cornmeal, eggplant, big can of tomatoes, mushrooms, red pepper, onion, parsley) cost about $11, which comes out to $2.75 per serving.  It was easy and delicious.  Not so easy: eating all those leftovers.  Looks like more than 4 servings to me.  But the “waste not, want not” policy is in full effect over here, so wish me luck.

Different Life

11 Jun

Ok, I have been at my job now for 3 years, with each year seeming longer than the last.  The point here is not to gripe about work.  Instead, I’m having crazy thoughts about what kind of a different life I might be able to make for myself.  It started with daydreaming about being laid-off.  The prospect of losing my job used to be terrifying, but recently it’s sounded more like an exciting challenge. What other uses would I find for those 40 hours per week?  How would I make ends meet?  It doesn’t seem like lay-offs and unemployment benefits are in my immediate future so I’m starting to think about what other changes I might be able to make.  At this point, it looks like cutting hours at my current job is the most likely for me.  Written down, it doesn’t seem so drastic.  After all, people all over the country are having hours cut for them or even losing their jobs.  But thinking about the corresponding pay cut and increase in “me” time that such a step would mean is a little scary and a lot exhilerating.  So, before I make any big steps, I’m going to do a little experiment.  I’m going to try and live as if I earn half as much money as I do now.  Then we’ll see how serious I actually am about this.  Full disclosure: I don’t have loans, house payments, car payments, a child, or a high cost of living.  I’m applying to nursing school this winter, so any changes I make to my work-life are temporary as my time at this job has a definite expiration date.  I also have some savings and would have to plan on using them to pay for my remaining nursing prerequisite courses and any emergencies that might arise. 

The purpose of this experiment is twofold: (1) to try my hand at more frugal living and (2) to use my extra time to my best advantage by learning a new skill, taking up a craft, cooking from scratch, riding my bike, doing anything that my current lifestyle gets in the way of.  For now, I’m just implementing stage 1 and ruthlessly plotting stage 2.