Nighttime update, and the makeup purchase.

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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

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Tipping on a budget.

For one summer in high school, I worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts / Baskin Robbins (affectionately referred to as “Dunkin’ Robbins” by anyone who has ever worked at such a place). It may not be as long as some folks have worked in food, but I still learned something that summer: tips are amazing, and those who don’t give them are assholes. I also learned that if your Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t have a bakery in it, you’re probably getting day-old (at least!) donuts and bagels. Oh! And, never ever have them spread the cream cheese on your bagel for you – do it yourself. Trust me.

Uh… anyway… back to tipping!

A friend and I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts on my way home from our knitting meetup last night because I was really hungry and cold. One latte order later, and I was rang up: $3 and change. I’d ordered the latte becauase it was on sale for 99 cents if you order one after 2pm. I corrected her, she apologized, and I got it for 99 cents… plus 7 cents tax. Being on a budget, I wanted all of my coins – all 94 cents of it – in my own pocket. I need it! I only have so much! But, realizing it’s after 10pm on a federal holiday and this woman is working alone in a Dunkin Donuts made me stop and think.

Summer of 2003, there was a huge freaking black-out in the northeastern United States, including my hometown. I was working at “Dunkin’ Robbins” that day and the witch-like wife of my boss was supervising us. The power went out, yet she still forced us to work. There was a carnival across the street at the time, and once the power ran out and the generators ran out of gas, everyone from the carnival bombarded us with demands of iced coffee and ice cream. (Mind you, this was way before Dunkin’ Donuts got fancy. It was simple: coffee, bagels, donuts, breakfast sandwiches. On my last day of work, actually, they were installing our first latte machine. I sure got out just in time!)

A line of pissed off, heat exhausted families with equally pissed off, heat-exhausted kids took over our dark store. Our witch of a supervisor was yelling at us, “DON’T YOU DARE OPEN A REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER OR THE ICE CREAM WILL MELT! TURN EVERYONE AROUND WHO NEEDS ICE CREAM! JUST SERVE COFFEE!” The biggest problem, however, wasn’t that the ice for the iced coffee was melting, or that the coffee itself was disappearing with every purchase – it was that our registers ran on electricity and couldn’t be opened with the power being out. We had to use our tips to make change for people. After we ran out of coffee, we sent everyone away and put a “Sorry, we’re closed” sign on our door. Instead of sending us home (since my shift was over in an hour and a half anyway) she made us clean on our hands and knees in the dark – the floor, the counters, the sinks, the bathroom, the back room – everything.

And, at the end of all of this, I didn’t get a single tip.

So, last night I gave the girl a 17% tip – 19 cents. In hindsight, I should’ve given more. But, at least I did it. I could’ve been pissy about her not giving me my discount until I had to ask her. I could’ve been upset that it took her 3 minutes to make a tiny espresso beverage. I could’ve been like all the unnecessarily angry people who get their triple-grande-soy-caramel-macchiato and barely give a smile, surely not a tip.

Regardless of your budget, tip your server after your meal, your barista when you get your espresso, your bartender when you get your whiskey, and your cashier when they spread your cream cheese on your bagel for you. If not, be prepared for your next bagel to have expired cream cheese spread all over it… not that I’ve ever done such a thing…

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $50.34

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

Sunday funday: second week in review.

This post is being posted at night instead of in the morning because I had a fantastic weekend that deserves a post of its own! However, I will mention how my spending went down very nicely in week two, even with an impromptu coffee run on Saturday night.

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What I’d Struggled With
I didn’t have as much anxiety as I did last week, but I did have a bit of a strange, pitiful moment on Amazon. Luckily I learned from it and moved on.

Where My Money Went
I spent allowance money on coffee (for me) and hot cocoa (for my fiancé) Saturday night, and coffee and a granola bar on Wednesday.

Where My Money Didn’t Go
As usual, I ate free food at the office on days that I forgot to bring my own lunch. I spent non-allowance money on my dentist appointment copay, prescription, electric toothbrush, wedding stuff, gas, and car maintenance.

Total Spent: $26.93
Added to Money Jar: $33.07
Total in Money Jar: $103.72

As of writing this post, I spent money on wine and snacks. Yum and yum. 🙂

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $51.74

A little snafu…

When my fiance and I moved from Cincinnati to Boston, we had Chase bank accounts. Boston, however, has only one Chase bank location: an ATM in the airport. Well, crap.

We switched to Ally bank once I saw how amazing their interest rates are. (Seriously amazing. So amazing that I had to fill out an extra tax form last year because I earned so much money!)

It wasn’t until about a week or so ago that I thought to myself, “Hmm. I’m putting all of my leftovers every week in my money jar. If at the end of this year I have… say… $1500 in that jar, I’ll have to deposit it. And… Ally is an online bank… and they don’t do cash deposits.” Well, crap again.

So, I’m really unsure what the hell to do about this. I mean… there’s no harm in having a secret stash of emergency money in the apartment for the proverbial “rainy day”, right? But I still wish I could deposit it somewhere for it to gain interest or something!

Okay, rant over. (Though any suggestions would be nice!)

As I write this, I’m waiting for my fiance to be done getting ready so we can go out with a coworker and her husband for dinner and drinks. My guy will pay, most likely, but I may buy a drink for each of us so I will be bringing my remaining money with me, prepared to spend it if I must. Luckily I have a good chunk still left!

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $57.12

J

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

Money-spending in Boston on my day off.

The good news is that I got lots of wedding stuff done (or at least started) yesterday on my day off! The bad news is that many things on my list didn’t happen or weren’t finished. Let’s review, shall we?

  • Drop my car off for maintenance. So, this one happened! I dropped it off, it was done pretty damn quickly, and my car is back in my possession. It cost $150-ish to do everything (oil, new belt, new bulb) which, as mentioned, does not come out of my budget. However, this morning, the issue they said would be solved by the new belt isn’t fixed after all. Ugh. (Side-note: I totally knew it wasn’t the belt at all, but they insisted. Luckily I have it in writing that if this doesn’t fix the problem, they’re going to give me some money back and fix the actual issue.) On my way back home from the body shop, I wanted a coffee because it was freezing and I had a mile walk after my subway ride. I spent $2.88 on a jumbo coffee at 7-11, obviously to be taken out of my allowance.
  • Shop for wedding stuff. This happened, but wasn’t totally successful. I was able to find some things on my list (elastic string for the garter I’m knitting, puff paint for my shoes) but not others (chalkboard paint, chalk markers). I was able to finish my DIY stuff on my shoes (it’s a secret!) and started knitting my garter. I also begun my DIY chalkboard (after walking to Goodwill and finding an awesome ugly framed print for me to use as my base), but without chalkboard paint, I obviously didn’t finish. Our wedding is going to have lots of Legos in it (seriously) so I spent about an hour soaking and cleaning the Legos we bought off of craigslist. I was definitely productive!
  • Possibly get my hair cut. This did not happen. Boo.
  • Do something fitnessy. This didn’t happen, either. For what it’s worth, I did walk at least 3.5 miles during my trek between Goodwill, the auto body shop, 7-11, etc.
  • Go to trivia with coworkers. I did this and didn’t spend a dime! One of the guys owed me a beer, and I shared appetizers that were offered to me. Done and done.

One thing I forgot to mention in my list is that I had a dentist appointment, too. That didn’t go very well, as I was told that my mother’s genes are continuing to show themselves in me… in the form of periodontal disease! Not fun! My mother has been seeing periodontists since I was a baby (she was in her early 30s at the time) and it got so bad that she had to get 6 teeth (I think!) removed and dental implants put in when she was in her mid-40s. My oral hygienist, upon seeing what she said were “puffy gums” asked about my mom’s periodontal disease history and said, “Wow. I’ve never heard of someone going through all of that at such a young age!” (To compare: my father, who is going to be 70, has one little spot on his gum that is “at risk”. I have at least 3 teeth whose gums are “at risk” and I’m only 28. My mother, who is 58, had six teeth removed and still has disease. Apparently I have the gums of a 100-year-old or something, I guess.)

So, now I have to spend money on an electric toothbrush, special mouthwash, and a prescription they wrote for me for some kind of special toothpaste. This, obviously, will not come out of my allowance because it’s a medical necessity. Ugh ugh ugh. Lesson of the day, kids: floss your damn teeth.

Despite all of the rollercoaster of good and bad going on, my money-spending was totally in control. I honestly didn’t need that cup of coffee, but I really wanted it. I guess it’s the most impulsive buy I’ve done all month, and compared to my usual impulses, this was nothing. A normal convenience store impulse buy would be getting the coffee… and a string cheese… and sunglasses… and some kind of snack for my fiance. I think I did well, right?

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

DIY tank top.

As mentioned before, I went to a trivia night at a bar with coworkers last week and we came in third place. Yay! We won tee shirts, but they’re men’s extra large. Boo! I scoured Google, Pinterest, and my WordPress “Blogs I Follow” for how to DIY a cute tank top from this huge shirt without sacrificing the awesome logo on the front and with minimal disappearance of the logo on the back. I’ve done this kind of thing a few times but never loved any of my attempts 100%, but I decided to forgo the ones I saw online and try my own design. Here’s how it went.

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There’s my tee shirt. It’s awesome, but huge!

 

 

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I found a tank top I already own that has the look I want for my DIY tank.

 

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With a pencil, I traced the shape of the top of the tank (armpits and neckline) leaving about 1/2″-3/4″ perimeter because I know that tee shirt material tends to roll in on itself and get a little smaller.

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I cut on the lines I drew and also took off the bottom inch or so of the shirt.

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I placed the tank top over the shirt again, and cut along the same silhouette as the tank. Next, I poked holes through both layers of the shirt (front and back) with a needle every 30mm down the sides of the tank, where I’d just cut, about 3/4″ from the edge.

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I cut a red tee shirt so I had a long strand and tied it through the holes like you would a corset or shoe. (You could obviously use yarn, shoelaces, or anything else you have on hand.) After lacing it up on both sides, I put it on and loosened the “laces” until it felt comfortable.

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Ta-da! One less work-out or summer shirt to spend money on, right? 🙂

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $60.00

J

First full week, in review.

I probably should have posted this yesterday… whoops! But, here’s how my first full week of living on this $60 allowance went.

What I’d Learned
I definitely discovered that I apparently don’t have much need to spend money during the work week. At my office, there’s so much free food that even if I forget to pack a lunch, there’s a 90% chance I’ll find something to eat. In fact, the only time I spent money on food was when out at a trivia night with friends on Thursday, and even then I only spent just over $5.

I also learned I have a really great fiancé. Okay… I guess I technically knew this already… but still! I learned that my guy is so on board with my little challenge that he automatically pays for things he knows are either his responsibility, or that he knows I deserve (for lack of a better term). So far, I haven’t had to ask him to pay for something – this while thing seems very instinctual.

What I’d Struggled With
I definitely had a bit of anxiety when grocery shopping. No longer can I just buy without looking at the prices of things. I also have to prioritize. Not deviating fun my shopping list is also a struggle, for sure.

Where My Money Went
I spent allowance money on dinner at trivia night and at the grocery store. I used my Starbucks gold card once. I also bought gas early in the week and paid for parking using my debit card, which doesn’t come out of the budget.

Where My Money Didn’t Go
I could’ve spent a lot more on groceries, and I had water instead of a second beer at trivia. I cooked on nights when I didn’t feel like it. I ate free food at work the day I’d forgotten to pack lunch.

Total Spent: $23.35
Added to Money Jar: $36.65
Total in Money Jar: $70.65

As of writing this post, I haven’t spent any of this new week’s budget, so…

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $60.00

J