Friday, December 19, 2008

Kill me now.


I know I talk a lot of shit about Ipods. That is because I think they are generally a waste of money. Well, maybe not a waste. But not NECESSARY you know? Some people act like their Ipods are like food: they will die without them. This is probably not true. You will probably not die without your Ipod. Probably.

But. I understand that they’re convenient. I understand that they’re fun. I do not think that you need to wear yours ALL the time and cut off all human communication just so you can listen to the latest Cat Power record. I don’t think that you should be buying a new one every time a new one comes out. I think of it as a luxury—kind of like pre-package convenience food. It certainly makes things easier, but for a price.

That being said, I will never own an ipod.

BUT.

Yesterday I was taking a walk down to the good old community acupuncture clinic. This is normally the highlight of my week. Anyway, on my walk there, my CD player started to skip. Again. And again. And again. This happens pretty regularly. Although I am proud of my CD player and all the money that it saves me, it really can be a pain in the ass. It’s not so much having to listen to one CD at a time—I don’t really mind that. It’s the skipping. A lot of my CDs are really old and there are songs on them that I just can’t listen to. Sometimes it’s a whole half of a CD that I can’t listen to.


As this was happening yesterday I was like “Damn it! Eff this! I am buying an ipod!” Then I cursed myself for even thinking of such an unethical and outrageous solution. Then I remembered that I could have an MP3 player without being too much of a trendy bitch—I could buy a Zune…

Yes, it’s the same thing. But at least it’s not an ipod, right? White ear “buds” attached to a secret container in your pocket? What is that, a pot reference?

Today I am stuck working from home because of the copious amounts of snow outside. So, on one of my breaks I decided to do some Zune research. In the past when I considered buying a Zune I thought that maybe I would get the 80 GB one. Go big or go home, right?

Then I realize that an 80 GB Zune was completely unnecessary. Let’s say my current CD collection has about 100 cds. I listen to approximately 50 of these cds on a regular basis (if that).

The “Zune 16” holds 4,000 songs. Let’s say the average CD has about twelve songs on it. That means that the “Zune 16” holds approximately 333 CDs. Since I only have 100 cds, and many of them are rap-rock from the late 1990’s that I would rather die than listen to, maybe the” Zune 16” would make sense.

“But,” you might say. “What about all that sweet music that you are going to download off of ‘I Tunes’ every day?”

“Do not fret,” I would say back. I think that buying a ton of stuff off of this “Itunes” business would be a waste of money for me. I do not usually stay current with new music, and maybe buy a CD every two months at the very most. So, even after uploading 50 CDs onto my brand new Zune, I would still have room for 283 more. And, if I bought a CD every month (unlikely) and added that to the device, it would take me almost two years to fill it up!

And by then I will be so into my Zune that I will be the new model, because the old one will be as outdated as the Discman I currently rock out with.

So, my friends, I might buy an Mp3 player. But I swear that I won’t be proud of it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How To Get What You Want By Using Yelp


If you're like me, you don't want to waste your money on someone mean, lazy, or just bad.

With the help of Yelp.com, I am able to avoid money-wasting, meanness, laziness and badness more and more often.

Yelp is a website where you can type in something you need (examples: acupuncture, dentist, shoe repair) and read reviews of business that do those things. Each business has a star rating, as given by readers, and reviews by readers specifying why they gave a place a good or bad review.

For example, I wanted to go to acupuncture. So I looked up "acupuncture" in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which is where I live. I found affordable acupuncture with five stars. I have been going there for six months now and it is wonderful.

Another example: when shopping for insurance for my new job, I had the choice between the coverage of Washington Dental or Willamette Dental. Willamette Dental was a far better deal, but you could only go to Willamette Dentists. I looked up the Willamette Dental center by my house, which got horrible reviews. Another Willamette Dental center in Kirkland also got horrible reviews. I decided to save myself the heartache and go with Washington Dental. Even though it is a more expensive plan, you can go anywhere you want. And I, personally, enjoy a nice dentist rather than an evil one.

I have also found a great shoe repair place, tea shop, and vet through Yelp. I've also reviewed many places that have treated me really good--or bad.

Yelp really is a great tool to help weed out the places that you DON'T want to go, and find places that might just become your favorites.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Once a Month Grocery Shopping - Update


Remember when I bought groceries for the whole month at the beginning of the month? Yeah.

It's gone pretty well so far. I have actually made it until now without eating out once. Which is good! I am allowed to eat out, of course, on the weekends, but I have had enough food at my house so that I have not needed to.

The menu helps a LOT. Knowing what I will be eating the next day comes in super helpful. Although, sometimes I schedule myself pretty tightly and don't have time to cook. When that happens I will make something easy off the menu and just make more of it so that it lasts longer.

For example, on Monday night I am supposed to babysit, which I did not originally plan for. So I will probably not make vegetable soup. Instead, maybe I will make stir fry or pasta. Or, perhaps I will make vegetable soup on Sunday night and have enough for two days.

I am quite happy with my results so far. I have gone to the produce stand twice. It is on the way home from the new job, so it is not out of the way any more. Besides that, I haven't needed to buy anything at the grocery store! Yay!

Another advantage is that when I am hungry, I know I have enough food to make SOMETHING. Before, even though I was spending a lot of money on groceries, I wouldn't have anything to make because it was all random and unplanned. Now I have several staples for several meals.

Yes. I will let you know if I make it until the end of the month...

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'd Like To Buy The World a Coke


I like Coca-Cola. I always have. But, it is pretty bad for you. Really. And kind of expensive for what it is.

Really, you should be drinking water. It is good for you and nearly free. But, sometimes people don't LIKE to drink water. Sometime I don't like to drink water. So I have a stash of Coke Zero in the fridge. I drink one every once in a while, but try not to make it a habit.

At the moment Coke has a promotion going on. Any Coke product that you buy comes with a promotional code. Once you have this code, you go to http://www.mycokerewards.com, register for an account, and enter the codes. It will give you points.

The points are good for all sorts of crap you don't need. But, they're also good for free Coke! Honestly, buying the Coke really isn't worth the points, but if it is something that you're going to do anyway, you may as well take advantage.

For example, right now I have 80 points. That seems like a lot, right? Well, not exactly. For 24 points I could get a 20 oz bottle of Coke. So right now I have enough for three twenty ounce bottles. Not bad.

My strategy for this? Scavenge. Yes, it's tacky. Yes, it's a little gross. But who cares? Maybe the word scavenge isn't quite right. Collect? Beg?

If I am walking down the street and I see a 20 oz bottle of Coke that someone has littered, I pick it up, take off the top, and put it in my pocket. Sweet. I have done this several times. Also, if you're at a party and see a potential Coke point source just sitting there, take it! (Unless you know the host collects them. But they probably don't rule at life, so don't count on it.)

This is how I got so many points. I probably have purchased maybe 20 of those 80 points. Maybe. Mostly it is by being tacky and a little gross. But eh.

So go on! Next time you see a bottle of Coke just sitting on the sidewalk, take off the cap, take it home, and enter it. Or, at the very least, give it to me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Taking Advantage of Extras

My wonderful new job comes equipped with all sorts of benefits and extras. I'm excited to start exploring these and finding new ways to save.

One of them is mileage. My job pays a good rate for any driving I do that is necessary for my job. (This should be standard, but sadly, it is not--I have driven for jobs for years and this is the first time that I have gotten actual mileage.) Right now I think it is around 51 cent per mile. I have been doing a lot of extra driving these past couple of weeks while I am still training.

My plan? At the end of the month, I will turn in my mileage card. I have been tracking closely and writing everything down ASAP so that I will not forget where and when I drove for work. When I get the mileage reimbursement check, it will go into a high-interest savings account that will eventually pay for a new car. It's unlikely that I will be able to buy a new car on mileage checks alone, but hey, it can't hurt. At this point of the month I have been at my job for eight days. So far I have driven about 150 miles for work. That is $76, which is sweet.

Another good benefit is a resource called Enhanced Benefits Group. I have already called them to talk about mortgages. I am hoping to buy a condo, so I talked to some sort of a mortgage counselor on Friday to see what my price range should be.

I also will have access to what's called a VEBA Account. Each month, I am allotted $712 for benefits. But, I am only using about $600 of those. The remaining money will go into a VEBA Account, which I can use to pay other health care related costs. I am hoping to pay for part of my weekly acupuncture visits with it.

I am finding that there is a lot offered through my job. The key is knowing what your resources are and taking advantage of them. I am sure that some people of the agency aren't aware of all the ways that these things can work for them. I'm excited to get started.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

$212

What would you buy if you had an extra $212 dollars each month for a year?

I would buy the following things:

January: A Zune Mp3 Player
February: A lot of Jean Paul Gaultier Perfume (It is my signature scent and discontinued--I'm stocking up)
March: Books
April: A ton of cheap clothes from H&M and Forever 21
May: Cds
June: A plane ticket to San Francisco
July: Dinner out three times a week
August: A fancy drink from Sureshot every day
September: Hella Booze
October: A new TV
November: Expensive shoes
December: A whole bunch of meaningless crap for everyone else

And you get the point. I can't even think of how much crap I would buy with an extra $212 a month. Of course, I could always spend it on useful things. But what is considered useful?

I just started a new job, complete with a retirement plan. $212 is the amount that will be put away each month. I will up this next year when my salary goes up. But, even if I don't up it, I will be in good shape by retirement. Why?

According to some retirement calculator online...

"Your 457 could be worth $932,845 after 40 years"


So yes! Instead of having a bunch of stupid clothes, electronics, dinners out and coffees that I will just get tired of or digest, I will have almost a million dollars.

And you won't. Unless you get started saving. NOW!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stopping for pedestrians is costly.

But it IS the law...plus it is considerate.

Please read my Craigslist "Missed Connection" ad.

Today I called a pedestrian an asshole.
I drive a car. I know, I know. Cars are bad. Cars are bad for the environment. They're expensive. Blah blah. But a lot of the time, when walking somewhere is not practical, I drive my car.

Today was one of those days. I decided to buy a TON of groceries (to last me the whole month!) so I drove my car so that I could take them all home.

On the way home from my huge grocery trip, I stopped for you, the pedestrian I called an asshole. I stopped so that you could cross the street. Why? First, because I THINK it’s the law. (Don’t pedestrians always have the right-of-way? I’m pretty sure. Maybe this guy knows something I don’t, though.) Second, it’s considerate. Yes, law-abiding and considerate.

What makes it even MORE considerate is that it cuts into my fuel efficiency to do unnecessary stopping and going. Of course, because it is the law (as far as I know) it is not unnecessary for me to stop for pedestrians.

But, it IS unnecessary for me to stop when you CHOSE NOT TO WALK. I guess that’s a choice you can make freely. Of course it is. But it is a completely inconsiderate one. What, are you too GOOD to cross the street in front of my old beater car? Are you trying to be considerate by letting ME go? Well, guess what? It is NOT considerate for you to let me go first. Why? Because it wastes my time, my gas, and essentially, my money.
Today it was also wasting the time, gas and money of the drivers lined up behind me who honked. Embarrassing! I’m not sure if they were honking at me because I looked like an asshole for waiting for some asshole who clearly wouldn’t go, even though he was obviously wanting to cross the street, or if they were honking at your for wasting their time (and money, and gas, etc.)

Anyway, guy that I called an asshole this morning, you are not alone! This happens to me pretty frequently. So, all you pedestrians who are trying to be considerate by letting me go first—don’t! When I stop, politely wave, and then go! I will appreciate that SO much more than you letting me go. Actually, most of the time I won’t go—I will sit and sit and sit there until finally you decide to go, after wasting everyone’s time. And sometimes it takes a LONG time to realize that I am not going anywhere until you fucking CROSS THE STREET. (Today I did not play that game because of the people waiting and honking behind me.)

P.S. I actually think I called you a “fucking asshole” within my car. You definitely picked up on this, because as I drove away I saw you looking at me. Maybe in fear. Who knows.


(I posted this and then it got flagged. So I change the headline and wording a little bit and reposted. We'll see how that one goes...)

Monthly Grocery Shopping

Hi loyal followers (hah),

Today I bought a month's worth of groceries. Well, almost.

I read an article earlier this month about monthly grocery shopping. I thought it sounded like a good idea, for the most part. I decided to try it for the month, but with my own rules and steps.

I made a menu for an entire month. I did not plan for weekends, as those are crazy and I didn't want to schedule myself too much. I figure that weekends are for cooking with friends and being spontaneous.

I also made sure to plan around weekly events--for example, on Thursday nights I have a weekly babysitting job. Thursday night meals are always simple to make, as well as Friday lunches.

I am allowed to buy some products after the inital monthly trip. For example, I am allowed and encouraged to go to the produce stand once per week (On Mondays, preferably.) Awesomely, the cheapest produce stand in town is kind of on the way home from my new job, which will save on gas for the trip down there I usually make. I did plan my menu around going to the produce stand on Mondays. For example, tomorrow night's planned meal is veggie stir fry.

I am also allowed to buy stuff that will spoil or run out--mostly stuff like lunch meat, since I eat sandwiches as snacks sometimes.

Anyway. Today I went to Safeway to get almost all of the things. I did pretty well--I spent $141.34, but actually only 111.21 was on food groceries.

Included in the $141.31 was cat food and litter, sandwich bags, a quart of motor oil, some cleaner, and some hair conditioner. Even though I may have been able to get these things cheaper elsewhere, I figured buying them now would help in the long run with impulse buying. If I bought as many things as I can now, it will give me less excuses to go to the store to "just buy cat litter" but then end up buying a ton of other things. It will also save on time and gas.

I did not buy wine, even though I have been drinking a lot of it lately. I will buy that as needed. (I have not been drinking a LOT of it, I mean, but...some. It's more of a weekend thing.)

I also have not bought salmon yet. I couldn't find it at Safeway.

The question is: will this really save me money in the long run?

I am not sure. Looking at my past monthly grocerie bills, it probably will. It also may save me money on restaurant food, if I can control myself. This will be easier, as I will be working less hours at the new job and it is in a neighborhood with less interesting restaurants, as far as I know.

For the record, I spent $168 in October on groceries. This is according to Mint, which is not completely accurate because of my cash income from babysitting.

Really, I should be depositing my cash and THEN spending it, but that is hard. I am pretty sure that I used some of my babysitting cash for groceries in October. But whatever.

I also spent $49 on restaurants in October. Again, probably inaccurate, because of the babysitting cash that I had.

September is probably a little more accurate--$279 spent on groceries and $92 in restaurants.

August is $145 on groceries and $133 in restaurants.

Looking at all of it, I spend an average of $197 on groceries. Which is about where I want to be, anyway. (Of course, less would be better!)

I am shooting for around $150-$170 this month. That allows this $111 shopping trip, plus four $10 trips to the produce stand, as well as $20 of flexible money. We will see. I will keep everyone posted.

Oh! An important detail! The kindness of my mom and her husband brought down my bill pretty significantly. My mom donated to the cause--home made salsa, jam, home-grown peas and corn (frozen) as well as several other things. That will save a LOT. So thank you, mom.

The key here is to be conscious. I have to remind myself that I have an overstuffed pantry every time I want to go to the store for entertainment. I have to remind myself that every time I want to eat out. If I am conscious, I can do it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For...


Because it might just be on the side of the road!

I have found so many great things that I have wanted or needed on the side of the road within the past couple months. I know I have already written an entry about this, but I have found even MORE great stuff, so I had to share.

Within the past nine days, I have found...

A barstool. I really needed a barstool! I have a bar in my kitchen/dining area, but no stool. The one I found isn't beautiful, but it is functional.

A crock pot! My mom actually already bought me one for Christmas, but when I found one on the side of the road, I couldn't resist. I picked it up and plugged it in (it works!) and will give it to a friend. It does need a liner, which could prove challenging, but we'll see.

A pizza cutter! I just found one of these this morning. Just was I was thinking that I needed to go to the dollar store to pick one up.

I also found some kitchen knives this morning. This is helpful, because I only have one at my house.

Also, on the day after Halloween I found an AMAZING bookshelf less than a block from my house. It is one of those "cube" bookshelves--EXACTLY what I was looking for.

Anyway, now that I have found all this stuff that I need, I have learned something: sometimes it pays to wait. It's better not to buy things. Just wait for them to come to you....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Garage Sale


Today a friend and I tried to have a garage sale. Unfortunately, we chose the COLDEST DAY EVER. I am also still feeling sick, so that didn't help.


We sold four things: a necklace, two cds, and a Joey Fatone Bobblehead Doll. The JFBD cost seventy-five cents. I told the guy who picked it up that Joey was on Dancing with the Stars. That really sold him. Also, on the price tag, under where it said the price, I wrote "super hot."


So, that was awesome.


Other than that, we didn't last too long because it was FREEZING. We brought all the stuff to Goodwill. It was a lot of stuff, but it was okay, because that is less stuff in my house to worry about. Thank goodness!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Save Money AND The Environment

One of the seemingly eccentric frugal things that I do is hang dry my laundry. Well, I guess a lot of people do it, so it's okay, but it makes me feel a little bit eccentric.

Plus, I don't hang dry ALL of it. I normally do two loads of laundry every week or two. One of these loads I designate for things that can and will go in the dryer. (Mostly towels--I tried to hang dry those once and they got kind of yucky.) The second load is for stuff that I can and will hang dry--mostly dresses, shirts, tights, and slips.

When I made the decision to hang dry laundry, I search my 624 Square Foot Apartment for a place to do it. I didn't really find anything. I decided that I had to be creative. Very creative. And this is what I came up with.

Step 1: Over the Door Hanger

This is an "Over-The-Door" Hanger. I got it at the Salvation Army a few years back. I hang coats on it, normally...

Step 2: Laundry Basket
I put a laundry basket on the Over the Door Hanger. The hooks of the hanger fit into the holes on the laundry basket

3. Hang the clothes
I hang the clothes from hangers. Once they're all dry, I can just hang them in the closet! Sometimes I will also use clothespins to hang things like tights and slips from the holes. If needed, I will run a fan to circulate the air (this is right by my front door and in my hallway, so sometimes it needs some circulation.)

This doesn't save me much money--usually $1 to $2 per load, which is what it costs to dry a load in my apartment building. But, hey, $1 to $2 is better than nothing, and it also helps the environment.

It's funny though--whenever I am walking down the street in my neighborhood, homeless people ask me for money. I never give it to them. I always just say "Sorry" when asked, but inside my head I say "I didn't just spend 20 minutes hang drying my laundry so that I could give you the dollar!"

Also, I can't overload this laundry basket hanging dryer. It has gotten too heavy before and fallen. A lot of times I will hang some dresses and skirts from my shower rod as well so that the load is lightened.

Not Ruling Very Hard. (Or "When Life Gives You Lemons, Get a New Job")


Hi Friends!

I've missed you! As you can probably tell by the title, I haven't been ruling very hard lately. It's quite sad. But, I plan to start ruling again soon. Let's talk about it!

I have had a hard go at work for a while now. My job is quite stressful. I have been a manager, meaning I am the one to pick up the slack when we are understaffed (which we frequently are) or when anything out of the ordinary happens. It was fun at first, with all the responsibility, but after a while it just became unhealthy. I do not think that humans are meant to work even EIGHT hours a day, let alone ten. And I have been working ten a lot of days.

This has affected my work in many ways. I am less focused and get less done. It's affected my home and financial life, too. I have gotten sick twice in two months and also gotten a bit out of control with my spending this month. Some examples:

1. Ooo, you know American Apparel? Well, it is a super cool store where you can buy super-overpriced but supposedly ethical and super cute cotton wear! Anyway, about that. I bought a sweet and soft gray cardigan there. I love it, and I will wear it often, but geez. I really couldn't afford it and didn't really NEED it. Luckily, I only buy a few things there a year. And no wonder--the cardigan cost me $44 plus tax! But, when you're overworked and it is Veteran's Day and you are out buying expensive coffee and looking at stores with a friend, it SEEMS like a good idea.

2. Ditto on all the other clothing items I have bought this month. Definitely cute, but unnecessary. (None are quite as expensive as the Overpriced Apparel cardigan, though.)

3. You know when it's Friday night and it seems like a WONDERFUL idea to go to a gay bar and spend a ton of money? Yeah, well, it's actually NOT. It's fun while it lasts, but then you wake up with an awful hangover and a credit card reciept. Maybe MAYBE every once in a while, and that's how I usually do it, but please. I cannot make this with a habit.

4. Ditto on going to the fancy drink place down the street.

5. Dining out is a great source of fun when you've worked all week! And with an Entertainment Book it is super cheap! Right?! Well, kind of. I bought an Entertainment Book, which has already paid for itself. This is lovely, but should NOT be used as an excuse to eat out a LOT.

In addition to all this fun stuff, my computer broke! While this is happy, because I hated that computer...I had to buy a new one. I managed to get what I was looking for for a good price, AND I have an emergency fund for expenses just like this. But, it is still an unexpected expense that doesn't feel quite amazing.

But, my friends, GOOD NEWS! I can start ruling at life hard again soon. Tomorrow is Pay Day, and I will be turning over a new leaf. (Well, not quite new, because I'm not TOTALLY out of control, but newish.) And then, three days after Pay Day is Thanksgiving, and then after Thanksgiving...

I START A NEW JOB!

Yes! Thank you! My new job has benefits (not only benefits--Amazing benefits!) pays more hourly, and has SUMMERS OFF! Granted, the money will be less yearly, but I am hoping to supplement with some kind of a chill and fun summer job. And even better news--I will only be working eight hours per day! The work is much more along the lines of what I want to do, and will hopefully be more interesting--I won't be stuck in an office all day. I'm also hoping for less stress, but I'll keep you posted on that one.

Anyway, I am quite grateful for the change of pace and hope to have more time to keep up with this blog. I will keep you updated about how to Rule at Life. Check back soon!

PS That Girl is not me. I am not an American Apparel Model. Thank God.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Working less is more.

It's been a while, mostly because I have been working too much. I have one full time job where I often work overtime. In addition to this, I work as an independent childcare provider (aka babysitter) in my "spare time".

This, of course, has its good points and bad points. Given that my regular job pays me under what I think I should be getting (but, I guess we all probably think that about our jobs, huh?) I feel the need to work extra child care jobs to make extra and easy money. And it is easy money. Enjoyable, too. It is nice to be able to help a family by providing quality childcare for them. It is also nice to spend an evening with kids and then watching tv or reading after they go to bed. It is nice to connect with people that I have known a long time. Some of these families I have been in contact with for several years.

But, there's also the bad. For example, a couple of weeks ago I had a babysitting job on a Thursday evening. I got off of work at 3:30pm (I worked eight hours without a break.) Then I had dinner out with a friend. It was nice, of course, but let me tell you, for saving money and ruling at life, eating dinner out is not ideal in this situation. We were rushed because I had to get to my job by 5:30. The restaurant was chosen hastily. I was hungry and exhausted for work, so I probably ate much more than I needed to.

After dinner I went to my babysitting job and it was wonderful. But guess what? It threw me off for the next day, as well. Because I baby-sat until 8:30, when I got home I was too tired to make lunch for the next day. Meaning that I had to spend money at the grocery store buying a prepared frozen dinner that I wouldn't normally buy.

While it might not be the smartest thing to babysit, as it throws me off, I really do enjoy it. In the end, I definitely am able to save more money than I spend. But I try to be aware that even though I am working extra and making money, it is generally not as good of a deal as it may seem to be. Though I get money and enjoyment out of it, sometimes I just need to CHILL. I need to sit at home with my cat and just MAKE DINNER.

Luckily, on this Sunday, I have the best of both worlds. I am babysitting in my home for a wonderful toddler, who will probably nap for part of the time. We will get to read books, go for a walk in my neighborhood, and just chill at my home. This is definitely nice. The extra money, of course, will be nice too, because sometimes you just need it. This month's extra expenses have thrown me for a loop. But, my friends, that is quite another entry...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Coffee is frivolous. So what?


The first entry in my debit card register on Wednesday, October 1st is an ATM Withdrawl. This makes sense. I am allowed one coffee drink on Wednesdays from the Sureshot Cafe. "But!" you might say "Getting coffee is expensive and wasteful and DEFINITELY not a way to rule at life by saving money! What are you thinking, getting coffee once a week?"

I am thinking that I like getting coffee. Well, not coffee, exactly. I purchase what is called White Coffee, a different kind of coffee drink. I usually get it with soy milk and some sort of flavoring. It runs around $4 after I tip my attractive barista.

Yes, I could make my own white coffee at home. I could brew it up, add my own syrup and make it cheaply. But I do not. Why not? Because mostly I go get coffee for the experience. It is worth the $4 per week, $16 per month, and $192 per year for me to get away from work, buy some caffeinated goodness, attempt to flirt with the attractive barista, and drink a comforting drink. It just is. It is not cheap, but it is worth it.

Luckily, I get the most out of my visit to Sureshot by trying to only go on Wednesdays. Why Wednesdays? Because on Wednesdays they stamp my little card TWICE. That's right, it is double stamp day. Doing it this way helps me to get my free white coffee TWICE as fast. This is a smart move toward a weekly purchase that may be considered not so smart.

(I found th picture on Google Image Search. It is from someone's Flickr.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Phone-y is the new communication.

I broke my phone last night.

Well, I didn't break it. It died. Death, oh death of a phone. It's not pretty.

Let's start at the beginning. Around two and a half years ago, I was rocking a Nokia 3390 with a red cover. It was pretty sweet, except for the fact that people kept teasing me about how "ghetto" it was. And, it was getting old. I started craving a new phone. One with pictures! Sound recording! Sweet ringtones! One where a picture of a person would come up every time they called! And if someone I didn't like called, I could set it to a picture of something ugly! YES!



So I traded in that little Nokia 3390 for a Motorola Razr. Oh, how trendy I was. Then everyone started getting Razrs. They were all the rage.

But, as time went on, the fancy-schmancy internet phones started to make it big. And here I was, little old me, with my old Motorola Razr. "It's about time to renew," I thought. "I should get a fancy internet phone. Even if I don't use the internet, it could have a calendar on it. I need a calendar! After all, my PDA just broke! Yes! A phone with a calendar and and Mp3 player." This is what I wanted.

My PDA broke a couple of months ago. It was nice to have, a nice gift from a family that I used to nanny for. As nice as it was and as disappointed as I was when it broke, it's been pretty refreshing switching back to a paper calendar. To not bury my nose inside something electronic at every spare moment.

I don't need to be cool phone-wise, anymore. I mean, really. First I'd get a Blackerry. Then I'd get the internet for it. Then I'd start ignoring my friends in real life. Then I wouldn't be able to stop. Blackberries. I-pods. I-phones. Then I'd get a computerized car. Work from home. Not ever talk to people. Ever! No. I do not want that.

So I went into the T-Mobile store today. I went up to the salesperson and told him that I needed a new phone. He asked me what the most important feature was. I told him that the most important feature was that it was a free phone. The next most important feature would be that it can call people. Then a camera. It would also be excellent if it was a purple phone.

He hooked me up. He did well. All it cost me was dedicating another 2 years of my life to Tmobile (formerly known as Voicestream) and $19.26. Not bad. I have been with Tmobile for 8+ years now, and still only pay around $25 per month on a family plan. You really can't beat that.

As nice as it'd be to have a fancy-ass Blackberry and start ignoring people, I am learning to be happy with what I have. Not just accept it, but embrace it. Just look at my collection: My Walkman and Discman, which both play music for me when I need them to. (Don't worry, I have rechargeable batteries for them.) My paper calendar, full of its beautiful chaos. My simple new and almost-free phone. But best of all...well, best of all, I don't know. That's a whole lot of stuff to be carrying around in my purse. But I am ruling at life, so I don't mind.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oh, dental.

One thing that you should know about me is that I am uninsured. I don't really want to be uninsured, but it is just how things have worked out up until this point. Generally though, if you're healthy and don't have any severe accidents, being uninsured is cheaper. So that's good. But, it is risky.

Anyway, my teeth hurt. I went to the dentist in July, after not having gone for a while. He told me that I have several cavities that need to be fixed. All in all, it will be around $2400 worth of work. I wasn't happy. I actually cried, in front of them, which is always lovely. That dentist is actually pretty condescending and seems shady anyway.

After trying to get into a low income dental clinic (which didn't work, because I am not low-income enough) I decided to get a second opinion elsewhere. Hopefully the second opinion will tell me if shady-condescending man was quoting me for things that I didn't really need done.
I don't want to spend $2400 on my teeth. I don't even HAVE $2400 to spend on anything right now. But, if I can find someone who will work on me, be considerate and kind AND be flexible payment wise, I will be good.

It will be nice if I can get a cheaper quote. But, if not, I would much rather spend my two-plus-grand at a place with caring staff. And, if they work out, they will be getting another two grand from me in the near future. You see, I think my wisdom teeth are coming in....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Curb is a Goldmine!

Over the past couple of days, I have found some lovely things on the curb. Come to think of it, over the past couple of MONTHS I have found some lovely things on the curb.

On Monday night my friend Chad and I were walking down John Street on Capitol Hill in Seattle when we came across a box. Oh, and boxes mean good things. This one was mostly full of foam packing peanuts, but it also contained some magazines and a pair of almost new red flats. Now, I know what you're thinking--FOOT FUNGUS! Oh, probably. But you know what I have to say about that? Bring it on. BRING IT ON!

(Actually, I am already having a lot of problems with my foot related to severe eczema. While I am definitely going to wipe these shoes out with Lysol or something, I think it is damn near impossible for the condition of the skin on my foot to get any worse. So whatevs.)

Anyway, it looks like these flats have been worn maybe once. I really should get a picture up in here, but I'm not quite to that stage yet in my blogging. Anyway, they are cute. And guess what else? I actually really needed a new pair of red shoes. During my younger years I wore all heels. They started to give me bunions, so I have slowly been replacing all of my shoes with flats of a different color. And I hadn't replaced my red ones yet. So score.

Then, yesterday, I came across a patch of grass on the curb three blocks away from my house. This patch of grass contained many items, the most notable being a collection of THREE hair dryers. Three!

I am actually pretty opposed to hair dryers, as I think drying your hair is a waste of time and bad for your hair, but still, it can't hurt to have one just in case, especially with winter coming up. It is also good for when you have guests over--I felt bad when my lovely friend visited from California and I had to break to her that I didn't own a hair dryer.

Out of the three, I chose a purple one, because purple is my favorite color. I plugged it in today and it didn't electrocute me or kill me (yet). I take this as a good sign, and also maybe a gift from God.

The other thing I found was a little sampler kit of Burt's Bees products. Yes, those expensive-ass, yummy smelling, slightly yuppie creams and soaps and lotions and whatnot. (I'm also sure they are organic. Whoop-de-do.)

I know what you may be thinking: Gross! But guess what? This little bag of products was all unused! Sealed and everything. So I took the little kit home and used it. It included a bar of "shampoo soap", shower soap, toner, face wash, foot cream, body lotion and cuticle cream. I used almost all of them, except for the cuticle cream, because I already have some of that (I get it for Christmas most years.)

And let me tell you, I like the stuff. The shampoo soap bar made my hair a bit greasy, but still good. The cuticle cream (when I do get around to using it) is a great way to kill time when you're in class or whatever. It really is a treat to find unused Burt's Bee's products on the side of the road.

Then, finally, I found a cute patterned Old Navy tank top on Broadway by a dumpster today. (Again, I know what you may be thinking. And again, BRING ON THE SCABIES. I mean, not really. But of course I will wash it before I wear it.) This tank top will most likely be a great addition to my wardrobe. And, if it isn't, I got it for free, so I didn't waste any money on it.

Basically, don't hesitate to do some of your shopping freely from the curbside. You may be surprised at what you find. You also may get scabies, but whatever. You could also get scabies at Nordstrom from trying on clothes after someone else has. (It is important to note that scabies can happen to anyone. It is highly contagious and affects everyone, regardless of age and income level.)

Welcome to Ruling at Life!

Hello. Stacy here. I am starting a blog to share my ideas about how to rule at life.

My version of ruling at life has several aspects and may be completely different from yours. Mostly, I am here to share my ideas on how to live cheaply, efficiently and happily.

I mean, I don't save THAT much money, but I am working on it. My goal is to have a down payment for a condo within the next five years. I work in Early Childhood Education, which is traditionally a VERY low paying field, so it is proving to be a challenge.

But, everyone has to have goals, right? My goal is to share my insight on how to do things somewhat inexpensively in a creative manner while still recognizing what is important.

I am by no means a frugal expert or anything like that. Mostly, I just have fun talking about personal finance, lecturing my friends and bragging about good deals. Plus, I recently saw a tarot card reader who told me that I could make some money writing and that I should start a blog.

So here goes.