Strapped for cash.

It’s Friday afternoon and I have the least amount of money left from my weekly allowance than I’ve had at any other Friday so far this year. During the week, I had to spend money on a small grocery trip I had to make so I could have items to bake bread with (more on that in a future post!) among other necessities that we didn’t pick up during our regular grocery-shopping trip. I spent $22.15 on bread flower, mayonnaise, tuna, milk, and yeast. I didn’t exactly make the best choices: I got Hellman’s mayo even though I’m sure the generic was a few cents cheaper. Same with the canned tuna (I always get Bumblebee brand), but I did buy the generic yeast. (Yay?) I didn’t have coupons this time, either, because I completely forgot to look online before I went. All of this is my fault.

Wednesday, I worked from home, which was nice. I didn’t go out and buy anything, obviously, staying home and making my own coffee, bread, and other foods instead. At least I did some good on that day!

I also spent money in the past few days on snacks, a lunch with coworkers, and tipping a coat check guy.

So…

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $16.85

The week’s not over, obviously, and to make things even more difficult, tonight I have a movie night with some coworkers. I have a few options of what to bring:

  • a bottle of wine that I got during a Yankee Swap in December
  • spend some of my remaining allowance on something else
  • bake something from scratch using stuff I have around the house

I’m hoping to do either the first or third option. I really want to hold onto my allowance in case I need anything on Saturday. We’ll see how this goes…!

Advertisements

Nighttime update, and the makeup purchase.

image

I stopped at CVS tonight on the way home from work to get the eyeliner I so desperately needed. Good news: it was a success! Bad news: I had to buy two items to save one dollar.

Eyeliner isn’t cheap, and because the coupon was for a major brand, this was especially true. Each was $6.49… total was $12.98… $11.98 after the coupon. I had to go there to get something medical (not from the allowance) so let’s just forget about the tax.

What I learned is that I really need to pay attention to the entire coupon! Derp. Secondly, I should try to make this makeup last!

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $38.36

J

Budget make-up?

On Monday morning, something happened… something that I’d been fearing since I began this challenge: my eyeliner ran out.

Make up is pretty damn costly. I usually spent about $7 or so on eyeliner, $10-ish on mascara, and a lot more on my foundation & blush. I don’t gloop on makeup, but I do enjoy wearing it and I own a ton of the stuff. My foundation and blush comes from an online store I’d discovered while dabbling in veganism a few years ago: Alima Pure. Their makeup is fan-freaking-tastic, even in my omnivorous life. But, it’s expensive… about $25 for a container that lasts me a few months. Without being able to use my credit card as part of this little budget experiment of mine, I’m getting anxious.

Yes, the option of not wearing makeup is the cheapest, of course. But, I don’t want to. Plain and simple. Hell, one of my old blogs was actually me challenging myself to not wear makeup for a full year… but I chickened out after two months because I’d been invited to weddings that I knew I’d want to get dressed up for. Whoops.

So, next option: get my makeup for cheaper. I don’t have to worry about my foundation yet (I still have a lot left) but I’m out of eyeliner and I’m running low on mascara. Time to start couponing! Well, I used to be a very good, somewhat obsessed couponer when we lived in Cincinnati. I had a folder with all of our coupons nicely organized and I’d take it with us when we’d go shopping. Though not reality TV-worthy, we would save as much as 25% off our total, which was definitely awesome.

Luckily, I just reactivated my account with coupons.com and discovered a coupon for $1 L’Oreal makeup. This could be a good thing. 🙂

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $51.74

In which I pity myself a little bit.

I’ve just bought over $80 worth of stuff on Amazon. Using my credit card. It felt like old times.

The catch: none of this was taken out of my budget. I mentioned in my last post that my dentist frightened me into submission about how I’d end up like my mother (needing painful and expensive dental implants because of my early signs of developing periodontal disease) unless I buy a fancy toothbrush, among other things. So, I spent about $60-ish on an electric toothbrush and heads. I also spent $20-ish on paint supplies for some wedding DIY crafty stuff which, also, isn’t to be taken out of my allowance.

“Well, why the hell do you care, then?” you ask? Because I got way, way too giddy about shopping on Amazon again as I was making these purchases.

What I used to do with Amazon was the following:

  1. Do a search for the legitimate product I needed to buy
  2. Add the item to my cart
  3. Get sucked into the “recommended for you based on your interests” lists that show up when I add something to my cart
  4. Hunt for those random things that sparked my interest
  5. End up adding at least 2 or 3 other items to my cart
  6. Check out
  7. Feel excited
  8. Feel depressed that I fell for the trickery and for my weakness

The good news is that I only purchased what I needed. I didn’t deviate. Go me!

The bad news is that I so, so wanted to. When I added the toothbrush to my cart, I immediately thought, “Oh, maybe I should be a little corner shelf for next to the sink to put it on since we probably don’t have enough space for it near our faucet!” I was noticeably excited at the idea of getting this glorious plastic shelf. I searched and found one for $28 and was a heartbeat away from clicking “add to cart” before my conscience slapped me in the back of the skull and said, “STOP, YOU CRAZY WOMAN!”

I checked out without buying the shelf, but I so totally want it. The “me” from 3 weeks ago would’ve bought it without hesitation. I wouldn’t have thought, “Hey, maybe I should go home and measure my counter space to see if it fits before I think about buying a shelf.” It would not have crossed my mind at all.

I feel happy that I didn’t buy it, but I am a bit sad at how freaking happy I felt at the idea of buying this stupid plastic shelf. Quite sad, actually. I’m definitely not close to being different in my spending. It’s been less than three weeks – I have a long way to go. I may be successful at sticking to my allowance right now, but my mind is still where it was three weeks ago: buy now, ask questions later never.

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $57.12

J

Quick, no-nonsense update.

Work has been sucking the life out of me lately, so I don’t have much to report right now. Luckily with a busy schedule, I have no free time to dilly dally and impulse buy. I guess all my hard work helps my budget…!

Luckily I have Wednesday off from work, so by the time this post appears on my blog, I’ll be out and about, giving Boston a real try with my budget. My to-do list:

  • Drop my car off for maintenance. (This cost is not getting taken out of my budget/allowance, as per my list of rules. However, in the past when I’ve done this, I usually end up walking around Boston, drinking lots of coffee, window-shopping… sometimes impulse shopping… so I’ve got to be careful!)
  • Shop for wedding stuff. (This also does not come out of my budget, but I have to make sure I stay focused and avoid impulse-buying when all I truly need are things for my wedding.)
  • Possibly get my hair cut. (This will come out of my budget. All beauty-related things will. I haven’t gotten a haircut in nearly a year, so this is desperate. Number one regret as of late: not getting my hair cut before the new year. Ugh.)
  • Do something fitnessy. (If the weather is good, I’ll go for a run. But, I may want to take advantage of my gym membership and the fact my afternoon will be free, so I can go to the gym when it’s not super busy! We’ll see.)
  • Go to trivia with coworkers. (If I buy food/beer, I’ll obviously pay. But, my fiance may come this week and if he does, there may be a chance he’ll pay. 🙂 )

Wish me luck!

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $60.00

J

Birthday planning, budget style.

My fiance’s birthday is later this month and I’m still unsure how to handle the gift-buying part of it. Usually (well, before I started living off of this allowance) I wouldn’t care about the money – I’d buy what he wanted on Amazon, not really looking at the price at all, and that’d be it. This time around, it’s different.

First, he asked for something specific: a PS4 controller (so we can play games together). Second, I want to take him out for dinner. In my post about the rules of my little money jar experiment, I mention that gift-giving isn’t to be taken out of my budget. I can’t exactly whittle a PS4 controller for the guy – I’m going to have to buy it. All sixty freaking dollars of it. 😦 I wish I could use my budget for this, but it’s kind of out of the question. I’ve already browsed Ebay and Craigslist but can’t find any decent deals on them. But, I have so many Amazon gift cards – more than enough for the controller. Should I just spend them on this? Isn’t that what they’re for?

Man, I sound like a crazy person, don’t I?

Honestly, at this point I don’t have an answer to the question of if I’ll use the gift cards for this purchase or not; luckily, I have a couple of weeks to figure it out. With dinner, though, I will use my budget because, well, I’ll be eating, too, and it’s honestly no different than choosing to dine out rather than stay in; it just so happens to be a special event. So… I’ll bite that bullet when it comes. Regardless, this birthday will be badass, I hope, and will be budget-friendly, too.

Kind of a lackluster post, I know, but this is what’s going on in my head! At the time of writing this, I haven’t spent any additional money although soonafter I click “schedule”, I will be off to a bar to watch the Patriots. Unlike what I said in yesterday’s post, we are apparently going to a bar to watch the game. Whoops! If my fiance offers to pay, that’ll be great; but, I luckily have some money left this week to help contribute if I have to! 🙂

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $36.65

J

Out of sight.

In my little “About Me” page, I mention how I’m not exactly the traditional spender. I don’t really shop for clothes… or so I used to claim! As I’ve recently noted in my analysis of last year’s spending, I’ve spent nearly $300 at my guilty pleasure retail outlet: Express.

I used to only go to Express when I’d have gift cards after the holidays or my birthday, buy new slacks for work or some new sweaters, and call it a successful trip. I wouldn’t go buy clothes anywhere else, usually, except for Express and would only go once or twice a year. Period.

But, in the past couple of years, I started getting tons of e-mails and coupons in the mail. I signed up for their rewards program (which is free, at least!). Next thing I knew, I was clicking on every e-mail. “Take 40-60% off fall sweaters until midnight tonight!” Sign me up! Suddenly my small collection of 2 pairs of work pants, 2 shirts, and a sweater turned into a collection of at least 3 dresses, a skirt or two, at least 3 work pants, probably close to 10 shirts, and a sweater or two. Ugh. What happened to me??!!

wpid-Screenshot_2014-01-05-08-47-59.png

Answer: their marketing worked. Hook. Line. Sinker.

I don’t blame Express for this at all. It’s just how things are. Now that I’ve been employed by a consumer goods company for over a year, my eyes are wide open to the tricks that marketers play in their adverts – be it e-mail, snail mail, or other media. It sucked me in. I fell for it. Shame on me.

Again, it’s not Express. I get, in the average week, over 30 e-mails from…

  • clothing stores (Express, Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, H&M)
  • electronics stores (Best Buy, primarily)
  • media (Netflix, Redbox)
  • online stores (Tradesy, Etsy, TouchOfModern, NFL Shop, Sports Illustrated’s online store)
  • restaurants (Starbucks, Panera, Godiva, Coldstone)

I’d say 80% of the time, I’d immediately delete them… but the other 20% of the time, the idea of getting sweaters for cheap from Express became enticing. “I only have until midnight! I must go now!” One sweater turns into two, which turns into a dress, which turns into leggings… you know how it goes.

So, I did something about it. I did something that was always an option, but was never taken.

I unsubscribed. I scrolled down to the teeny tiny text at the bottom of the email and clicked “unsusbscribe”. So far I’ve unsubscribed from every single one, and the time it takes to complete my morning routine of sorting through my two dozen or so e-mails has been drastically reduced, becoming more efficient.

Will this help curb my craving of buying those kick-ass looking running pants from Express? Time will tell. (But I really, really hope it does!)

As of writing this post on Monday night, I have miraculously not tapped into my budget for the week. However, I my first real hurdle is going to happen on Friday: I’m hosting a movie night and need to cook dinner for my guests; thus, a shopping trip may be in order. Eep! Anyway, for now…

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $60.00

J

Taking inventory.

image

That is $280 of gift cards, all of which I received over the holidays. As excited as I am as my brain screams, “Holy cow! Money! Money that doesn’t come from my allowance! YESYESYESYESYES!“… I have to stop that right now.

I’m thankful for the family and friends who had gotten these for me, and I know they want me to spend them as I want, but I need to let these last. There’s $75 worth of Amazon money, but that’s not exactly the $1900 I spent on the site last year.

Like most consumers do (I assume), I’d spend a gift card as follows:

1) Walk into store.
2) Pick out items, regardless of what my gift card’s value is.
3) Check out, using gift card.
4) Spend, out of pocket, far more than the gift card’s value was in the first place.

I can’t be alone in this, can I? I don’t think it’s a surprise that gift cards can lead to overspending when, in reality, they should lessen the out-of-pocket spending… right? This is one of the many things I’m going to be teaching myself this year!

image

Well, on New Years Day I spent some time rearranging my wallet, putting all of my gift cards in there and hiding my credit cards in slots that won’t put them in my face every time I open it. I emptied out my change pocket so that I’d truly be starting fresh, and just put the $34 for the short week where the cash is. Now I feel really ready.

Weekly Allowance: $34.00

Weekly Allowance Remaining: $34.00

J