Week 6 in review.

A day later than usual for my weekly update, but here we go!

What I’d Struggled With

The only real tricky part of this week was that I went through more of my allowance sooner than I’d done before. On Saturday when I wanted to buy some stuff at CVS for a party on Sunday, I had to make myself wait because I knew it’d be more than the $16 and change that I had on me. Same on Friday when I had to figure out if I wanted to spend money on something to bring to another party, or just use the stuff I had at home already.

Where My Money Went

Mainly, I spent the $40-something on snacks and a small grocery shopping trip.

Where My Money Didn’t Go

For the aforementioned party I went to on Friday, I ended up baking brownies with a raspberry-strawberry sauce on the side. (Frustratingly enough, nobody touched them at the party. Sigh…) I spent non-allowance money on a cab fare and on reloading my subway card on Saturday. I spent some of my Starbucks gold card money, too, but luckily there was a buy-one-get-one deal going on. Still, though, I only have $4.25 left on my gold card and the $15 gift card left. And it’s only February. Ugh. Old habits, right?

So, remembering that I had to spend some money from the jar on my fiance’s birthday dinner, my jar is still a bit under $100.

Total Spent: $43.15
Added to Money Jar:
 $16.85
Total in Money Jar:
 $79.83

On Sunday, I had to go to the grocery store to buy some things for making a dessert for yet another party I was attending. (Since when have I gotten popular enough to be invited out three times in a week? Eep!) I spent $21.43 on generic Chex-like cereal, powdered sugar, generic “funfetti”-like cake mix, generic white chocolate chips, generic sprinkles, granulated sugar, and cilantro. All but the last two were used to make some delicious funfetti-flavored “puppy chow”. As delicious as it was, I’m not so sure it was worth the money I’d spent on the ingredients.

So, starting off this week, I’m already down a bit…

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $38.57

J

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…!

Sometimes life gives you sour lemons.

Part of the motivation of doing this challenge and starting this blog was so we could save up for a decent down payment on our future home. We’re getting married in May and planned on starting the whole process in the late winter or early spring so we could move when our lease is up in the summer. Well, we’re idiots and accidentally chose the last day of our rental agreement as our wedding date. Whoops. Big whoops.

With our plan a bit screwed up, we figured, “Hey! Our landlord is a cool guy, we’re great tenants… he should totally be fine with letting us have a six month lease or go month-to-month so we have time to house hunt after the wedding! No biggie!” we finally asked him this last week and he responded last night with a simple “The best I can do is a lease end of 8/31.”

While I’m thankful he’s giving us an extra three months, this still means we’re going to have to start house-hunting sooner than planned. On top of wedding planning, I’m going to have to get loan pre-approval, go to open houses, and prepare to be in a lot of debt. But, there’s the good: the sooner we start – the sooner we’re done, I won’t have to go house-hunting with a pregnant belly, we’ll finally be able to get a dog (!!!!), and we’ll end 2014 with a hell of a bang. Plus, it’ll make good blog material. 😉

First step: learn. Neither my fiancé nor I know anything about real estate, mortgage applications, etc. Luckily, in just over a week, our alma mater’s alumni association is having a seminar about first time home buying. Talk about good timing! We’ve already signed up.

Anyway, this week started off easy, so here’s the numbers…

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $60.00

January in Review

I know I’ve been kind of silent the past few days, but the day job has been slowly sucking the life out of me. Luckily, being so busy means that I don’t have time to be too impulsive with my purchases! Still, money was spent in the past two days on coffee and tipping a bartender (the drinks were free!).

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $46.84

Now, today is the last day of January, which means my first month of this challenge is done!

Total in Money Jar: $62.08

In my last post, I mentioned how I had to tap into my money jar and spend a good chunk of it on my fiance’s birthday dinner. Hopefully I’ll be back over the $100 mark by the end of this week so I can continue saving up for those rainy-day, surprising things that just happen to come up once in a while. (Stupid birthdays! Whose idea was this!? 😀 ) But, for the first month, I think I’ve done quite well; however, there are some things I really want to work on for February.

  • I want to explore couponing a bit more. This is tricky because my fiance is responsible for our grocery shopping trips, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help him, right?
  • I want to share with you guys the details of how I do things for free in Boston. (I’ve done this once or twice already, but I really ought to expand on this!) This is an expensive city and yet we have ways of getting free things: parking, drinks, food, etc.
  • I should talk more about my and my fiance’s goals a bit more. We’re not very knowledgeable in things like buying a home, getting a loan, etc. yet we’re going to have to learn in the upcoming months how to do so! As we learn, I hope that you’ll learn.
  • I want to start selling unwanted things so I can have more money in my jar while reducing the clutter in our apartment.

A couple of things that are going to be coming up in February that can affect me financially:

  • A few parties (Super Bowl, etc.) will be happening early in the month.
  • There’s a high chance I will be traveling to China for business in mid-February.
  • My father’s birthday is coming up and odds are I will have to pay for dinner and a gift.

That’s about it! Thanks for sticking around, and I hope you continue throughout February!

One month down, eleven to go…

J

Birthday success (and how it impacted my money jar)!

Before leaving for dinner, I grabbed $80 from the money jar. Dinner ended up totaling $83.89 after tax, before tip – two drinks, one appetizer, two entrees, and four mini-dessert “shots”. Not too shabby! I used the $25 pre-paid credit card I got for the holidays from my boss and used cash for the rest, including tip. In the end, I spent the gift card and $80, putting the remaining $5 in my money jar. It definitely could’ve been worse, and here’s how:

  • I could’ve gotten a second drink, but didn’t.
  • I could’ve done valet parking, but didn’t.
  • I could’ve gotten a cappucino, but instead I made coffee when we returned home.

I was definitely pleasantly surprised at my self-control, and – bonus! – we had a damn good time. So, because I didn’t touch my weekly money (just the jar)…

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $55.84

But…

Previous Total in Money Jar: $142.08
Spent from Money Jar: $80.00
Total in Money Jar: $62.08

An old habit.

I’ve already talked about my stupidly cliche love for Starbucks a few times. Despite wishing I could stop going so often, I can’t. You’d think that being on a tight budget would cut my trips down significantly, and in a way they have. I used to go at least twice per week (sometimes as much as 5 or 6) and spend at least $4 per trip. In 2013, I spent $540.19 at Starbucks.

But, this year I have improved… just not by much. I mentioned how I already re-loaded my Starbucks gold card before the New Year, so I had $40-something that I was just going to treat like a gift card, spending it throughout the year so I could have my fix but in moderation. Well, January isn’t even over and I have $19.01 left. 😦 Quasi-fail.

Given that I’ve been able to stay well under my weekly budget so far, I definitely have extra cash in my money jar to spend as I please, and it could be at Starbucks if I want it to be! But, my lack of self-control is ever more apparent now that I’ve seen how quickly I’m going through the money on my gold card.

In other news, my fiance’s birthday is today and we’re going out to dinner. I’ve decided that even though I have spent my actual money on his present (non-allowance money, that is), I will take the cash out of my jar and use it towards his dinner tonight. It took a lot of thought, but my reason for doing this is simple: this is a dinner out. Any other dinner out I would have to budget for accordingly. Just because it is his birthday doesn’t mean this one dining out experience has to be a free-for-all! So, I’ll be using one of my gift cards, along with some of the cash in my wallet and from my money jar tonight. Hopefully it won’t be too bad!

Wish me luck!

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $55.84

And, we’re back! 3 week update.

So, my bad day is behind us, so let’s get back to it!

What I’d Struggled With
I didn’t really have too much of a hard time this week. I had to turn down lunch invitations from coworkers, but this week was so crazy that I didn’t really have time to go out and about much at all. At my knitting meetup I actually didn’t drink anything other than water, which was weird for me. Haha.

Where My Money Went
I spent allowance money on wine and snacks last Sunday, Dunkin Donuts during the week, and a quick trip to CVS for makeup during the week as well as yesterday for snacks.

Where My Money Didn’t Go
Some free lunches at work, subway and bus rides, and car maintenance and gas.

Total Spent: $21.64
Added to Money Jar: $38.36
Total in Money Jar: $142.08

As of writing this post, I spent shy of $5 on coffee for me and a milkshake for my fiancé. Let this new week be better than the last!

Weekly Allowance: $60.00
Weekly Allowance Remaining: $55.84

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.

image

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