Friday, December 25, 2009

Favorite Christmas Gifts.

1. Aromatherapy diffuser that my mom got at a store close-out sale for $1. I'm excited for my condo to smell better.

2. New Sonicare toothbrush. My old one died. This one is lightweight and easier to clean than the last one.

3. Adorable homemade hot pads and towels.

And, not a gift, but my mom hemmed my $6 Goodwill dress for me. I'm excited to wear it. Pictures at a later date.

Monday, December 14, 2009

O, Christmas Tree



Here is this year's Christmas tree. I bought some lights for it, which cost about $12. I also bought a new $3 ornament (purple ballet slippers!) Besides that, almost all of the ornaments have been given to me. And the tree? Artificial, decent-ish, and free from the side of the road!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hollywood Video Refund



The Hollywood Video by my house closed down. I was signed up for some thing there called Power Play, where you get a certain number of points each money and then can use the points to rent videos. I don't rent videos too often, but it ended up being cheaper usign this program. Plus, the points rolled over from month to month, so you could use them later if you needed to.

When I heard about my job ending I was planning on canceling the membership anyway. But, the store closed down, so I had an even better reason. I called the Hollywood Video hotline, who informed me that my membership was automatically canceled. they also informed me to call a number within the next three weeks for a refund.

I called today, and they let me know that I could get me $7.95 that I paid for November back, since the store closed in the middle of November. Good, right? No, not good enough. I asked if there was anything that could be done about all the points I had accumulated. She put me on hold to find out. When she came back she told me that the total amount of my refund would be $31. Yes! $31!! Much, much better than $7.95.

I had her put it back on my credit card, since I have a little balance on there from this month's bills that I pay automatically with my credit card. I was very happy that I asked about the extra points, as it earned me another $23 or so.


Photo from Capitol Hill Block at http://www.capitolhillseattle.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

FML?

Hi loyal readers,

A rough day today. I applied for two jobs within my agency and didn't screen into either one of them, leaving me without so much as an interview. I have also applied for several other jobs, but heard nothing back. It is a discouraging day.

Among everything though, I am not worried about money. I am anxious about the future. I am sad that my wonderful job is coming to and end. I'm upset to leave the community of people that I have spent the past year with. But I am not worried about money.

Why not? I've probably told you before, but I am a super-employable individual. If I can't get regular employment, I can baby-sit my way out of many financially rough situations. I can pay my mortgage by piecing things together. I can do it.

My emergency funds are looking better by the day as well. I still have $1000 in debt to pay off, which will be done before the end of the year. After that, I have enough of a buffer to live for a little while without a job. That being said though, I always have my supplemental (baby-sitting) income to live on until the regular employment happens. It's unlikely that I will even have to dip into the emergency savings. Possible, but unlikely.

I'm also blessed with the possibility of unemployment checks. This would of course affect my ability to do my supplemental work, but still an option if I need to take it.

So, the cycle continues of applying for work, baby-sitting like crazy and throwing it into savings, and praying for the best most rewarding and similar-to-my-old-job-paying position to come up. I know it will. I have faith.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Updatez


Hi friends,

Just a check in. I've been a little stressed out this week over the job situation. I have applied for two jobs that I thought I would certainly get interviews for, but have not gotten anything yet. Rough! Luckily, I have time and potential for unemployment. I'm not worried about money, really--I seem to be doing fine with saving. I just worry about not finding the right job for me. It needs to be something that I enjoy that compensates me at a rate similar to what I make now, and it needs to be full time. My current job also has excellent benefits, which are going to be hard to give up if I need to leave the agency.

Still working on saving though. Here are some things I've been doing.

I've been taking advantage of all of the little perks that I get from work. Making sure my VEBA Claims get sent in for reimbursement. Making sure my mileage is turned in on time. These reimbursements can really add up. If I receive all the reimbursements this month it will be an extra $400! And it will all go in savings.

I've been really limiting my grocery shopping and working off what I have in the cupboards. I used to do a lot of little grocery trips (I waver back and forth on this, actually, but have been careless lately) and now I do not. I'm doing every two weeks, spending a maximum of $60ish dollars each time. I did stop at the produce stand today, but was very careful not to overbuy and only ended up spending $4.57 on some carrots, spinach, avocado, satsumas, cucumber, zucchini, green beans, a banana and a butternut squash. Those things can combine with canned and dried food to make some excellent meals. I made my own hummus tonight with my newly purchased ($4.50 at the thrift-store!) food processor and ate it with carrots, cucumbers, avocado tortillas. Nom nom.

I haven't even started Christmas shopping, but I'm going to be very sparse this year and buy people gift cards for the amount that I can. I'm only shopping for my immediate family as well, unless I see something perfect for someone that is reasonably priced. I'll explain in a later post why I really don't believe in Christmas gifts.

I've been doing well laying off the booze. I did have a fun, expensive-ish night out on Saturday for the Lashes reunion show, but only had one drink and half of a (cheese-less) pizza while out. I had the opportunity to drink more at the Cha Cha but chose not to. My body thanked me for it on Sunday. I also shared some food and beers and wine with friends at my house prior to the show, which was lovely and inexpensive.

I'm babysitting like crazy still, maybe too much, but it's good for now. I've packed a lot into the next two weekends, then I think I'll give myself the weekend after that off, as it's my (fake) husband's holiday party at work. All this babysitting is ending up to be a lot of extra money.

The great part is that I need an emergency fund anyway, and I need to be saving money for a new car. If, by some miracle, I get a new job very soon, I can transfer a lot of the money I have saved into my new car fund. I can also use it to pay off my remaining family debt (which is almost done anyway.)

I've been reading a lot of PF stuff saying to take it one goal at a time, so after this debt is paid off my main savings goal will be for a new car. Specifically, a 2005 to 2008 Chevy Malibu. I'm excited. I hope to save enough money for one by the time I turn 27. Do you think I can do it?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Curb shopping!!!

Hi friends!

Tonight was a glorious night. Why? Curb shopping!

My new condo boasts pristine white carpets. Or boasted them, rather. It now boasts dirty white carpets. (Is that the right use of boast? Probably.) Anyway, that's annoying. The dirtiness of my carpets.

Earlier in the summer I was convinced that I needed an entryway rug. I ordered one online. When it came in the mail, I discovered that it was all wrong and sent it back. I made do with a shitty bath mat for a bit.

Then, about a month ago I found a nice enough hall runner in the dumpster outside of my house. Here's a picture of it:



Pretty fugly, right? But at least it protected the carpet. So I was down.

But then came tonight. Oh, glorious tonight. Right before the rain started I was walking to my friend Stefanie's house and came upon a pile of stuff. I was intrigued by the automatic timer that I had found. Then I noticed a nice carpet. It was a hall-runner. It covered more ground than my current hall-runner. It matched my curtains. It had black accents, like I like. Sure it was slightly dirty, but who cares?

Here is the new hall runner:



Beautiful, isn't it? I am in love. Perfect length. Perfect colors. Perfect price. Once it is vacuumed and clean Darby will stop looking at it funny and all will be well.

Also scored tonight: vintage white mixing bowl. My kitchen will thank me later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not Spending Money: Update



I have done very well in the "not spending money" department since I heard about losing my job.

What have I spent, so far? $121.75. In one week. It may look like a lot, but let's break it down. You can help decide if these things are necessary or not.

Wednesday, 11/11/09
$4.00 Coffee Drink from Sureshot
$23.00 Vacuum Part off of Ebay
$29.00 Gas

Friday, 11/13/09
$0.75, Can of Coca Cola from vending machine

Saturday, 11/14/09
$35.00 Acupuncture
$30.00 Medical Bill

And that's all!

Pretty good, huh? I could have probably gone without the coffee drink or the Coke. But treats, people. I need treats sometimes. I limit these treats to once a week.

Here are the things I could have spent money on but didn't:
Vodka Sodas
Restaurant Food
American Apparel
New shoes
A lot of bougie food
Other junk I don't need

So, I think I did well. I will keep it up until I have a new job lined up. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Things I am Doing to Prepare for Being Laid Off


Hi friends!

Oh, friends. Friends friends friends. Guess what? They have decided to discontinue the wonderful program at work that I am a part of. My job will end sometime between now and June 15th. Though it is uncertain when exactly, my best guess is between February and June.

I have been expecting this for a while, but now that it is official, I am doing some extra things to prepare in addition to my normal money saving routine. Keep reading to find out what!

POSITIVITY. Po-si-ti-vi-ty. Nothing will be helped by being pissed off. Nothing will be helped by being sad (although sad is the hardest emotion to get rid of in this situation, mostly because I adore my job.) Nothing will be helped by complaining about the economy, or comparing myself to others, or complaining in general.

So, what then?

I have a lot of experience in my field. I have a lot of knowledge about my field. I interview pretty well. I have a fairly specialized degree. I have diverse experience in the field. I work for a great agency who will consider me an internal employee for the next eighteen months, so I will have more of an opportunity to continue with them. There are already two excellent job opportunities that I will be applying for. One of them even pays more per year! We'll see what happens, but my guess is that I will be switching jobs before they even need to lay me off.

Plus, there's always unemployment. I think that would be a fun challenge to live on less. Don't you?

Save. Save save save save save save save. As in do not spend. And then save it. I decided the day that we got the news that I just wouldn't do any unnecessary spending. It's amazing how often I (and other people) handle their emotions by buying things. In fact, my first reaction to the news was to go buy a coffee drink from Starbucks or something to make myself feel better. But I didn't. (I did get a Coke Zero from the trunk of my car, though.)

Of course, I will get small treats every so often. A white coffee from Sureshot counts as a small treat (as long as it's only once a week.) A Coca-Cola from the machine at work counts as a small treat (as long as it's only once a week or less.) These are things I do anyway, I just have to be even more careful.

In contrast, three vodka sodas from a bar are not a small treat. Even one is not. I've decided to quit drinking (or quit spending money on drinking at least--if an attractive man wants to buy me one that's quite all right) until I've secured a new job. I even practiced this act of willpower last night when out with friends. My friend asked the bartender for a cup of hot water for me so that I could make some tea, but he said no. Oh well.

Work extra.
Or, as I sometimes say "I am going to baby-sit the shit out of this weekend." (Or week, or month, etc.) Actually, I don't say that, but I definitely think it. I am lucky enough to have several local families who call me to babysit quite often and pay me generously. Normally this is my "fun money", but now it will be my savings for a mortgage payment in case I need it when I lose the jobby job.

An added bonus? If I save a lot of this money and then get another job, I can apply it all toward the debt that I owe to a family member. I am now slowly paying off, but it'd be nice to get it all over with. Sweet. They should have given us this news at work a long time ago.

And quickly, some other things I am doing: Cooking at home all the time, not buying stuff from American Apparel, letting my cat hunger strike when he doesn't like the food that I bought him, being even more careful about turning the lights off and keeping the heat down, taking care of my health and not skimping on acupuncture too much because it is an investment, and trying to appreciate all the shit I already have so that I don't have to buy any more for a long, long time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Five Ways I Saved Dollarz on Vacation



The above is a picture of me spending dollars on vacation.

I just got back from another San Francisco trip. Bet you didn't know I was going, did you? Yes, I just went in August, but I went again last Thursday for a short trip.

Why?

When I graduated from college, I was dead set on moving to San Francisco. Fortunately and unfortunately my job connections and housing options here in Seattle were much more financially practical, so I stayed up here. At this point I promised myself that if I lived in Seattle, I had to make an effort to visit San Francisco as often as possible. I was shooting for twice a year, and have met that goal now for this year!

Another reason I went was that tickets were super cheap. After taxes and everything, I paid just $99 to fly on Virgin Air. This was ROUND TRIP. Sweet.

Since I had not started a "wine bottle savings account" for this trip, I started a small cash stash in a jar that I wouldn't have to break, since I didn't want to have to break a WBSA after just a month and a half. I put as much babysitting money as I could spare in a little jar. By the time it was time to leave, this jar had about $300. I spent just $180 on vacation. Yeah, that's a lot for three days I realize, but hey, I could easily spend that at home in three days as well. Besides...it could have been more!

Here are some things that I did that kept it from being more.

1. Snacks. I brought my own snacks. The night before I left I went to the natural foods section at Fred Meyer and bought some granola flakes, potato chips, pistachios, and allergen-free sugar cookies. Though these are not the healthiest things, they were the best things I could find that I wasn't allergic to that would travel well. I snacked on these things as much as I could throughout the trip so that I wouldn't have to buy snacks so often.

2. Public transportation. Except for two cab rides split three ways, I took it everywhere, including to and from SeaTac airport for the first time ever! The only reason we took a cab is because we saw some cops raiding a donut shop right by us and wanted to get out of the bad-seeming neighborhood ASAP.

3. Staying with friends. I am lucky enough to have extremely generous friends who will host me in SF. I hope they know how much I appreciate them, and I also hope they know that they are required to stay with me each and every time they visit Seattle.

4. Drinking less. I tried to limit my alcohol intake as much as possible. Everyone knows I love my drinky-drinks, but I didn't want to spend all my cash OR be too hungover to enjoy San Fran.

5. Eating good meals. Because on vacation I eat out a lot, I made sure to eat healthy, filling meals (that were allergen free, of course.) This helped so that I didn't want to snack as much in-between. I was also good at not splurging too much on coffee-like drinks or sodas in between meals.

Next step in achieving good San Francisco-related savings habits? I'm starting an ING Savings Account called "San Francisco". This will help to spread the cost of a plane ticket and expenses over several months through an automatic savings plan.

This way I can go back soon and pick up my heart that I left there. <3 <3

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Severe Budgeting.


Interesting fact: As I started writing this entry, "Head Like a Hole" by Nine Inch Nails came on the radio. The beginning lines of this song:

God money, I'll do anything for you.
God money, just tell me what you want me to.
God money, nail me up against the wall.
The god of money don't want everything he wants it all.

I actually just looked that up, and there are conflicting sources of whether the line is "God money" or "Got money". I always thought it was "Got Money" but oh well. It's still about money. As is this entry.

The past months have been hard for me. My monthly housing payment has increased significantly, since I own my place now rather than rent. This was expected, so it isn't a huge deal.

But, on top of that, I owe a family member some money because they helped me with money for a down payment. I'm working hard to get this paid off as soon as possible, but it's hard! I was paying $500 a month toward this debt at first, but I was beginning to struggle a bit to have anything left at the end of the month. This month I knocked this amount down to $300, and am still struggling a little!

I decided to put myself on a stricter budget to make my dollarz last longer throughout the month. What's been happening is that I get paid once a month. I pay all my bills, buy things I've been wanting for a long time, get groceries, whatever. Then, as the month nears the end, I don't have anything left and I'm scrounging through my babysitting money and anxiously awaiting my mileage check from work.

This month I decided to do something. I took the money that was left in my checking account after paying several bills and buying some clothes (about $60 worth) and divided it by four. I also did some rounding. This amount ended up being about $180.

The first week I did great. It was hard, but I did great. This week, however, it is not working. I haven't even really been buying too much "frivolous shit."

Week One's expenses involved the following:

Gas: $12.70
Cold Care Tea, Dayquil, Cat Litter $11.90
Nyquil, Gummi Vitamins: $18.59
The rest are estimates, as I lost my records, but here's what I can remember.
Groceries at Whole Foods: ~22
Vintage Mixer at Rummage Sale: $10
Butternut Squash at Farmer's Market $1.75
Coffee Drink: $4
Manicure: $15
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients @ PCC: ~8
Dental Bill: ~$20
Acupuncture and Herbs: %59

I'm at a loss for where the rest went, and regretting that I lost my records. Sometimes I forget how important that stuff is! The loyal readers of Ruling at Life are anxiously waiting!

This week has been worse. I did some babysitting and tried to save part of that money, but am going to have to spend some of it. This week my records are rounded. I do not want to do that next week. Here's what I have:

Special Eczema Wash for my feet: ~$25
Vitamins from Vitacost.com: ~$19
Tons of veggies and some bags of beans: ~$17
Soda at Lunchtime (I brought my own lunch!): ~$2
Soda at Billy McHales (socializing with coworkers): ~$3
Paying the Tailor to alter my trench coat so that it is way better: $28
Gas: $19.23
Food to make dinner @ PCC: ~$8
White Coffee Drink: $4
Groceries at Trader Joe's (including Food, Snacks, Shampoo, Probiotic Vitamins): ~$37
Money set aside for Acupuncture: $60

So far that adds up to about $163. But I know I'm missing something, because I added some babysitting into that, and I'm still coming up short. This is what I get for keeping shitty records. I will be better this next week.

I also found some $20 socks for $6. These are special socks because they help with the eczema on my feet. I am going to buy these.

Anyway, by looking at this data I have figured out many things. But, the thing that sticks out the most is that I have to spend a TON of money for health conditions. This sucks. But is necessary if I want to get better.

For example, I do NOT like spending money at bougie grocery stores such as PCC and Whole Foods. But because of my allergies, it's sometimes necessary for me to do so. For example, at Whole Foods I bought some Soy Free Earth Balance. Needed, as the only other butter that is free of butter, soy and coconut tastes pretty bad.

The money spent at PCC was on chocolate chips and chocolate bars that are soy and dairy free. (Hard to find, believe me!) This might be a little frivolous, but a girl needs her chocolate sometimes. With the chocolate chips and soy free earth balance I can make my own cookies, which is better than spending $5 on a package of Newman's Own cookies that taste like health food. (Newman's Own are the only allergen free ones I can find.)

The vitamins that I bought are Oregon Grape capsules. Those help with inflammation, which is good for my feet. It will be cheaper to take the capsules than to take the tincture, which I have been doing.

And acupuncture and the chinese herbs I have been taking are necessary for my eczema. I've tried to skip out on those and notice a very significant difference in how I feel and how my skin acts.

So, that's how it is. I am hoping that all this money spent on this stuff is an investment to help to cure my health issues, but we'll see. It certainly makes me feel better right now.

Now that I'm done, this is one novel of an entry. I'll check back in next week on how the budgeting is doing. Another important note: I am trying to do a lot of this with cash, which is helpful to make everything a little more tangible.

And now I leave you with a picture of Trent Reznor, from dietrichthrall.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/.



"God money's not looking for the cure.
God money's not concerned about the sick among the pure.
God money let's go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
The god of money's not one to choose"

Please note his dreamy "hurt" look and his hott scarf.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Food.

Bought nearly 24 pounds of produce/food today at MacPherson's produce stand. Cost me $17.05.

Celery, butternut squash, four apples, two pears, tomatoes on the vine, broccoli, cabbage, onions, potatoes, a yam, an avocado...

I will be set for a while.

I've been doing really well improvising dinner on what I have here. Usually mix a grain (rice, barley, quinoa) with a ton of veggies and some kind of protein (usually beans or lentils.)

I have a ton of food allergies, so anything with cheese has been out of the picture lately. And meat's just too damn expensive. It's been good.

This week's meals have included:

Vegetables and Chicken Curry in Rice Milk

Half bag of frozen vegetables, some curry paste whisked into rice milk, and a chicken breast dumped into the crock pot. (You could definitely do this with coconut milk, too, but I'm allergic to coconut as well.)

Spaghetti
Pasta, pasta sauce and garbanzo beans with a ton of veggies. I know that garbanzo beans are weird in pasta, but I needed protein and didn't want to have to use meat. I used to use TVP, but am allergic to soy. FML. When cooking for one sometimes a whole jar of pasta sauce is too much, so I use half and freeze the rest for next time. I should start making my own pasta sauce, though, as that's even cheaper, I think.

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup
Butternut squash cut up into cubes, red lentils, two tablespoons of ketchup (sub for tomato paste, haha, didn't want to go shopping!), cinnamon and cumin, and a cube of chicken bouillion and some water. A squirt of lime juice. Dumped into the crock pot, cooked. Really, really good.


Beans and Rice

Made rice last night, but didn't get a chance to do anything with it. Hot-soaked some pinto beans this morning, cooked them tonight. While they were cooking I simmered some tomatoes from the produce stand with some onions and seasoned the shit out of them. Also used some leftover taco seasoning that I found while cleaning out my cupboards. Added the rice and some spinach. I like spinach in everything, slightly wilted. It's good for you.

Also did some red beans and quinoa last week. Threw in a can of tomatoes. Turned out nice.

All these allergies as well as some budget restrictions (read: I haz a mortgage) are forcing me to be thriftier, more creative, and more healthy. Win win win. I like it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Taming the American Apparel Addiction

Or, maybe not taming it. Mine isn't that bad, I guess. But it's pricey, even though it's not bad.

American Apparel. Have you heard of them? They are a company that is "sweatshop free." They pride themselves on having sweat-shop free, well fitting, nicely colored, hip clothes. They also pride themselves on being run by a sleazy man in underwear. Or so I've heard.

Sleazy man in underwear aside, I really enjoy their clothes. In the winter I live in their leggings. And cardigans. I love their t-shirts, and have been drooling over some of their stuff for months now.

Why not buy it? Because it's expensive. I mean, it may not be expensive by normal person standards, but for me it is. I hate dropping $50 to $70 on just one or two things. Too much.

After a year though, my precious black leggings have started to develop a hole in the crotch. It happens when you wear them almost every day. It's understandable. But it's just not wearable anymore. I dreaded having to go into the store and drop $26 on one pair of leggings. But, they do last quite some time. And they fit perfectly. And they're the perfect length. So, FML, I needed to go get some.

Of course, I'm an idiot and forgot about the wonders of Ebay. Until last night. I got on Ebay and looked that up hard. And what did I find? For the normal price of one pair ($26) you can get two pairs shipped right to your house.

And I did just that. One black pair and one white pair. Satisfaction. (So far, at least. We'll see what happens when I get them. Maybe they'll be awful knockoffs? But I doubt it.)

Of course, I couldn't stop there. I've been after their seersucker skirt for months, too. Price: $38. For a skirt that I could sew myself, if I could sew. This is why I have been putting off this purchase.

A quick Ebay search revealed that I could get this skirt for $28.99. So you know what? I did. It was payday, and I've been thinking about it for a long time. Plus, it's just the right length to wear over leggings with boots.

In the store, these clothing pieces would have cost me a total of $97.20 approximately.

On Ebay, these things cost me approximately $55.

Oh, thank you Ebay. Now, if only you had that damn white button up shirt that I want from good old Overpriced Apparel. But, with all the money I have saved, maybe I can afford it.

Besides, I kinda like going into the store and hitting on the hipsters, even though they are far, far too cool for me.

Twitter

Hi,

Just made a twitter for this blog. It is "ruling_at_life". Add it. It might be interesting.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Free Furniture

I have a cute place. (I think, at least.) And, it is mostly furnished with free or cheap furniture. Much of this furniture is temporary and just waiting for an upgrade--but definitely serves its purpose for now. Examples:




This is a dresser that I got from some people I used to babysit for. I think it is beautiful. It's nice because it has a mirror and drawer space.



This is one of my best side-of-the-road finds. It is an Ikea shelf. I found it a block from my house on the day after Halloween last year. Everyone who sees it says that they want one, but can't afford it. All it cost me was some dragging for a block and some super glue to repair one of the shelves.



This is two of the three parts of my vintage sectional couch. I got it for free off of Craigslist. I love it, except for the fact that it is old and worn out. But it folds down and lines up with the other section to make a bed, which is rad. I'm seriously thinking of reupholstering it once I have the money saved. But, I also have a cat, so that might be counterproductive.




These two shelves both came from different sources. The one on top was one of two that I found on the side of the road and hauled home. The one on bottom came from my old work. This is one of my least favorite set-ups for my place--I can't wait to replace this with a vintage credenza to hold all my media needs. But, some things have to wait.



One of the two matching ones from the side of the road.



This used to be a barstool, but now I have no need for a barstool, so it is a plant stand. It's kind of ugly, but I think paint might make it nicer someday.



Second plant stand. Modems are hiding in the bottom. I hate visible modems.

Coming soon: Cheap furniture post. I think my most expensive piece cost $125. And that's the one I like the least.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best Buy's Price Matching

The other day I was buying a DVD player at Best Buy. This was, of course, after I had compared prices at Target. I wanted a reputable brand, as my last two DVD players have died on me because they were cheap.

All over the store, there were signs about price matching. Best Buy swore up and down that they would match the price of any other store.

Before hopping into line with my $41 Sony DVD player, I googled the model number on Google shopping. Sure enough, I found the same DVD player on Amazon for around $39.

When girl started ringing me up, I showed her my evidence of a lower price elsewhere, and she matched that price. This saved me three dollars, which is equivalent to a cup of chai with rice milk, 1.5 avocados, or a pair of cheap socks.

I was happy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yelping My Money Back



I went to the dentist yesterday.

Boy, do I like my new dentist. I can't remember if I talked about it before, but I wasn't happy with my old one. I didn't realize HOW unhappy I was with my old one until yesterday when I had an incredibly pleasant cleaning done.

How did I celebrate this pleasant cleaning? Why, by writing a semi-unfavorable review about my old dentist on Yelp, of course!

For those who are interested...

In short, I recently felt one of the fillings that the old dentist had done shift around as I was flossing. At my dental visit yesterday, my new dentist told me that I would need to have it replaced. This is after it being done less than a year ago!

Happily, my old dental office read my Yelp review this morning and offered to refund me the money for that filling. This is so nice. That filling was expensive, as I had to pay for it out of pocket. Hopefully the repair will be covered by insurance, so the refund will more than cover the work that needs to be done. It will also help pay for the time I will have lost having to have that tooth worked on twice. Dental appointments in general are kind of a time suck for me.

Basically, when in doubt, ask. Oh wait, I didn't ask. When in doubt, write a bad Yelp review. It might just pay off. Thank god it did for me.




**Photo courtesy of the flickr of shakespearesmonkey

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finances and the Single Girl

It is a known fact that I do not really like being single. It gets lonely and I don't get to have sex nearly as often as I'd like. But that's beside the point. This is a finance blog. Here are the ups and downs of my wild bachelorette lifestyle.

Let's start with the good...

I'm only responsible for myself. I don't have some trashy boyfriend pissing away my savings or an annoying husband trying to share one of my three retirement accounts. I don't have to worry about taking care of someone if they get sick or hurt, or bailing someone out of debt. Just me. And Darby, but he's easy.

I have more time to work.Because I have no one to report home to, I am able to spend these years of my life working two jobs to save a little extra. I enjoy both of my jobs, so I don't see it as a time loss at all. Sometimes I wonder what will happen when I am married and have kids and don't have time to babysit. Will I miss that money? Yes.

I always have leftovers.With only one person to feed, I always have enough dinner left over for the next day's lunch, sometimes even for two meals.

I am able to focus on my own financial goals.Of course I will still have financial goals when I am no longer single (if that ever happens), but now is a great time to be able to focus that much more. I feel like I can be more efficient at this point without the distraction of a really hot boyfriend (I mean, um, normal looking partner.)

The Bad...

My mortgage is really expensive.Sometimes I think of how nice life would be if I only had to pay half a mortgage. Or all my married coworkers who are buying big houses together. If I were half of a couple-y unit, I too could have a bigger space and a cheaper mortgage. I also would require less social interactions, so maybe I could save even more by moving out of the city a little bit. Of course I am thankful for what I have, and wouldn't trade it for a freeloading boyfriend at this point, but sometimes i get a little jealous of the people who only pay half of what I am paying for housing.

Less total income.If I were part of a couple, we would be making more money total (hopefully) and spending less on bills (for example, I would only have to pay half an internet bill, half an electric bill, etc.) Now, I'm sure me and my super-hot man friend could find a way to spend this money that we were saving, like for example on cable so we could sit around and grow fat together. But generally having that much more money would be nice.

Security.If I lost my job, I would have someone to help me out. Not that I don't already. It just might be easier to ask my hot boyfriend for help for a little bit than asking my family and friends.

In general, I am quite happy with my situation. Many people in my position might feel like they couldn't do some of the things that I have done financially. But I have, and on the income of a preschool teacher/social worker. Not bad. Financially, I don't really feel all that deprived at all. Now it's time to work on the loneliness and lack of sex part.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Day Off and Meal Planning


I am so thankful to have a day off after my vacation (which was wonderful, by the way.) I am so lucky to work for an agency who gives me adequate vacation time. I don't think I've actually taken a paid vacation since 2006! It makes all the difference.

Today is everything one would want or need to do after a vacation--relax, snuggle the needy kitty who missed me, and GET SHIT DONE. This involves going to my favorite coffee shop, running errands, and doing laundry.

My first step is to do some meal planning for the week. I have been failing at this lately. I was doing it monthly, as you may have read about before, but honestly it was stressing me out way too much. So I went to big monthly grocery shopping trip for the staples, and then filling in the gaps where needed. Maybe not the most cost-efficient way, but the stress reduction helps a lot.

This week I decided to write all my meals in my calendar so it would be right there when I looked at my appointments for the day:



Notice it says "curry". Yep.

The rest of the week:

Tuesday: Stir Fry--I have veggies to use up

Wednesday: Hummus Plate--going to try it with dried garbanzo beans

Thursday: Quesadillas

Friday: Pizza (I am babysitting my god daughter at my house, and I can make a vegetarian pizza. She can help, if she wants!)

Saturday: Enchiladas--having more lovely vegetarians over.

Sunday I will figure out.

Today I will also fill up my car with gas, and do other little odds and ends. I love San Francisco, but I am still happy to be back at my lovely home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

For Those Of You Who Were Curious...





Normally I don't like to put whory pictures of myself on my blog, but I think I look pretty.

My wine bottle savings account (RIP) contained $360.

I have started automating savings for next year's vacation, but will also do another one of these. For vacation or maybe for something else, like getting my couch reupholstered. (Yes, I know it would be cheaper to do it myself, but I would prefer to not have a couch that I reupholstered myself, because it would look terrible.)

Finding a Cat Sitter


I am going on vacation tomorrow. I need someone to take care of my precious Darby, as pictured above.

This always poses a bit of a problem. My friends are all lovely cat sitters, but they are busy. They do not always have time to come and give Darby maximum snuggles. I am not crazy about taking him somewhere, due to the cost and his stress level.

So I turned to the community where I live.

One of the things that drew me to a co-op style home is the idea that there is a community here. Unfortunately, it is not quite as cooperative as I had hoped. I have met some lovely people in my building (which contains around 100 units) but I have also met a lot of really fucking grumpy old people. Well, maybe not a lot. And I might have deserved it (**cough**pool party**cough). But still.

When I moved in, the one of the board members, who is quite lovely, told me that the manager, who works in the office, will sometimes watch people's cats.

I went to him, and he said that he will. For free! Score. Although, he did mention that he takes tips. So in an effort to not be cheap, I got him a gift card to the grocery store that is just up the hill from our building. I wanted to buy him chocolate, but what if he's vegan? Or diabetic?

I typed out some directions, too. Luckily, Sir Darbus is pretty low maintenance. I'm hoping that him and the manager will have a good time together.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wine Bottle Savings Account



The above picture is of my wine bottle savings account. This is the second time I have had one of these, and it has proven to be quite awesome.

Yes, I am aware that I am not earning interest on this. I am also aware that someone could break into my home and steal it at any time. But you know what? It's worth the risk, for now, at least.

As a professional child care provider (aka babysitter) on the evenings and weekends, I often get paid in cash. Normally a lot of that cash goes out the window--toward alcohol, dinners out, coffee, etc. It's fine--I am diligent about saving an appropriate amount of my normal paycheck, so this is my fun money. I get to be young and slightly frivolous.

But, I don't want to blow all of it. It's important for me to have some put away for a rainy day. Although, if I spent my wine bottle savings account each rainy day, I wouldn't have one, since I live in Seattle and nearly every day is a rainy one.

So, I save for vacation instead.

Vacation is a great time for me to have cash on hand. My current WBSA amounts to approximately $300. My last one was about $150. Given my current situation and my situation at the time I broke open my last one, I think that is a good amount to spend on vacation without feeling guilty.

I do, sometimes, spend more on vacation. I do things I normally wouldn't. I buy some clothes, some shoes, some little extras. I may go a bit over my current $300, and that's okay. But it's nice to have it there for little odds and ends. It's nice to be able to sit down in a San Francisco Starbucks and get a chai AND a pastry.

Basically, I do the following:

1. Start with an empty, clean wine bottle. Rinse it and LET IT DRY. (I didn't let it dry thoroughly enough the first time I did this and ended up with a moldy five dollar bill.) THIS IS THE FUN PART MY FRIENDS: IN ORDER TO GET AN EMPTY WINE BOTTLE YOU MUST FIRST DRINK THE WINE! PARTY ON!

2. Contribute a certain amount of cash every time you can. (I was doing $20 each time I babysat for a while, but then the babysitting died down, so I scaled back a bit.)

3. Keep track. Or don't. The first time I did this I did not keep track--and it was fun to be surprised. This time I have kept pretty close track and am also pleased with the results. Because you can't count it without breaking the bottle, I wrote what I contributed each week on the side.

4. Break it when it's time--but be careful.

5. Enjoy. This is mostly just a lot of fun. So.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Hot Dogs in a Thermos"




Yesterday at a work function I was explaining my cell phone strategy to another person that works for the agency that I do. While I described how I would actually be paying less out of pocket for more service, she said

"It makes sense. You are the girl with the hot dogs in a thermos."

What? You may ask? Hot dogs in a thermos? Let me explain.

Earlier this summer I was at the park with my friends. Boy, was I hungry. There is a small hot dog stand at the park. A hot dog with a bun and condiments is $4. It is a yummy, high quality hot dog. I could probably eat two of them each time I go to the park. But I don't. Why? That's approximately $80 a summer on hot dogs, assuming I eat two a week for ten weeks.

I came up with a strategy that will now be known as "hot dogs in a thermos."

1. Go home. Boil hot dogs in some water on the stove until they are nice and warm.

2. Put hot dogs in a thermos. (About five fit in my thermos.) Pour boiling water over them. Seal lid on.

3. Pack buns and condiments.

4. Bring to park. Share with your friends. If you are super stingy, charge them 50 cents per hot dog. (I don't do this--yet.)

5. Revel in the joy of saving money.

On sale, a 12-pack of hot dogs costs about $2. Sometimes less. A pack of buns? About $2 on sale for 8. I keep both on hand. Sometimes I freeze them.

At almost any event or activity that involves being outside for a long day, you will find me with a big bag or basket. This bag or basket normally contains hot dogs. If you are nice, I will give you one.

Picture: My thermos, along with my condiment containers made cleverly from old vitamin bottles. I wrote words such as "Mustard" and "Fancy Ketchup" on them.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Two Days.


I ate lunch out two days this week.

I am kind of bad.

Normally I am so good about bringing my lunch. Mostly leftovers. Make a big dinner for myself, save part of it for the next day. Good? Good.

But this week, things were dragging. I don't even know how it happened. On Tuesday I brought a lunch--some of last week's chili from a huge batch that I made.

Then my coworker interfered. He invited me to McDonald's. I had to go. I mean, I didn't HAVE to, but I love me some McDonald's, as long as it's every once in a while.

It was good, too. I savored my burger, and my chicken nuggets, and my fries. Well, maybe I didn't SAVOR the burger--I guess I ate it kind of fast. But it was good.

Wednesday came and I ate Tuesday's chili. It was good.

Then Thursday came along and I forgot a lunch again. Wednesday night was busy--acupuncture, vegan soft serve with a friend, and then drinks out with more friends. I gave in again and had some KFC.

Today, though, I did well. Last night allowed no time for anything--I worked all day and then had a babysitting job all night. At the babysitting job I had some lovely dinner, but of course I couldn't bring any home. (Well, I guess I COULD have, but that's just tacky and wrong. Pretty much stealing.) So today I took my favorite combination of ingredients and threw them in a bag for work:

1. Tortillas
2. Spinach
3. Avocado
4. Mustard

I then bought some lunch meat at the store and made my favorite wraps. They are yummy, simple, and very nutritious.

There is no moral to the story, exactly. Some weeks are better than other. Most of my weeks are excellent when it comes to lunch packing--I think this is the first time I've ever had lunch out more than twice in a work week. I would practice next week, too, but I'll be on vacation! That's when it will be time to splurge with my vacation fund. I'll tell you all about that soon.

NOTE: That is not me in the photo. But I wish it was. Yum.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Oh, Internet Phones




I've been really into the idea of an internet phone for a while. Being able to have the internet whenever I need it is really very appealing to me. Having a GPS or even just GoogleMaps available when I am on the go is a huge perk for me, as I am constantly getting lost, for my job and otherwise.

But, paying an extra $25 a month plus buying a phone did not sound appealing. Especially since it wasn't something that I really NEEDED. Then, something came along to help me change my mind.

Currently, the agency that I work for provides us with work cell phones. We have a cell phone and they take care of all the billing for it. It's nice. It's convenient.

But, after this month they are switching over to a stipend-only policy. Instead of paying for our cell phones, they will give us a stipend of $60-$100 per month based on our usage.

That got me thinking.

Currently, I pay around $40 per month for my phone on a family plan with my mom, my step-dad and my brother. That includes a certain number of minutes, which I rarely exceed and unlimited texting, which I added after I started exceeding my old text limit. A $60 stipend per month would cover that easily, so I could potentially just use my current phone as my work phone.

That option, unfortunately, would not work for me. I work in social work and often have to give my phone number to the families I work with. I currently have a work number for this. Using my personal phone would be a little close for comfort when blending personal and professional life. I also have a phone number that is in my hometown's area code. My work families would not be able to call me on this unless they had phones with long distance. Many do not.

After MUCH negotiation and calls to the phone company, T-Mobile, I was able to arrange the following with my lovely step-mom's help:

1. I will add a line to our family plan. This will bring our total for the five phones to $90 a month. I will be responsible for 2/5ths of this.

2. The line I am adding will be switched to a local area code for Seattle.

3. I will buy an internet phone for around $150 and a data plan for $25 per month.

4. I will continue to pay $20 a month for texting.

After all is said and done, my portion of my family's cell phone bill will be approximately $81. With work paying for $60 of this, the total cost to me will be approximately $21, which is $19 LESS than I am currently paying for cell phone service.

Smart? Yes. Ruling at life? Perhaps.

I am aware that I could've chose another path (I was strongly considering using Second Voice but didn't want to deal with calling their voicemail number every time I needed to call out) that would allow my to pocket some of the stipend money from my agency, but really, this is pretty sweet.

Now all I have to do is wait for it to come in the mail.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fridge Repairs and the Joys of Homeownership

I have owned my home for nearly two months now. It is great. It is grand. IT IS EXPENSIVE.

Seattle Washington has been experiencing the most intense heat wave that it has had in a LONG time. Temperatures reached 103 degrees yesterday, an all time high. People have been going crazy.

Today I was having a bit of a fat girl moment and decided to eat some frosting and chocolate animal crackers. "Wow," I thought to myself as I was eating the first delectable bite. "This frosting is really soft and nice. Usually after being in the fridge the frosting gets yucky and hard. Mmmmmm." I didn't think twice.

Then I decided to eat some potato salad straight out of the container. It, too, tasted warmer than it should.

At that point I stuck my head in the fridge and started frantically feeling things. Things were not ice cold. Wine was gathering condensation. I began to panic. I open the freezer. The ice cubes are half ice, half puddles.

Shit. Shit shit.

The first thing I do? Switch the plug of the fridge from one outlet to another. Maybe that will help, right? I decide to calm down for a bit.

After checking again, I realized that no, it has not worked. Panic. Call several refrigerator repair places. All have a fee of $50+ just to come look at it. The earliest that one can get here is "between eight and five tomorrow." This is incredibly convenient, as I can definitely take a day off to wait for a repair person. Right? WRONG. Who the hell do they think I am?

There is a complete lack of information when it comes to Seattle Fridge Repair people. Frustrated, I type in FRIDGE REPAIR, like that, in all caps, hoping to find some big asshole corporate company who will come, do something simple and then charge me up the ass.

Instead, I found a nice little article about things to try when your fridge isn't working! "Wow! I could do this myself," I thought. It tells me to dust the coils. I then google "How to dust fridge coils" and came across this:

Awesome dude who shows me how to dust my fridge coils on youtube.

I proceed to vacuum under the fridge. And dust under the fridge. And vacuum more. And dust more. Finally, I took a hair dryer and blew the shit out of the underside of the fridge.

And I'm not positive, but it seems to be working better. I'm going to sleep on it and check it out in the morning. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Costco.

Today I went to Costco.

Keep in mind that I do not have a membership. Even so, I can reap many benefits from going to Costco.

1. Prescriptions. Costco has the most inexpensive prescriptions that I have found. You do not need to be a member to use their pharmacy. Just tell them that you're going to the pharmacy if they try to check your card when you go in.

2. Free samples. Self explanatory. Great for while you are waiting for your prescription to be filled.

3. Cheap food court. A hot dog and a soda for $1.50. It's cash only, but still amazing, because it is cheap and you do not have to be a member. A great place to sit, eat and people watch while you wait for your prescription.

I also take time to look around and see if there is anything that I need. Usually there is not. However, if I do find something that I really need or want, I will HAVE to think about it before buying it. This is because you can't buy items without a Costco card, which can force intentionality. If there is something I absolutely need, I must go out of my way to find someone with a card, have them accompany me to the store, and have them buy the item so that I can pay them back. Pain in the ass. Rarely happens.

Anyway, an afternoon spent at Costco is usually one well spent. Cheaply.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I would like a new car, please.

I want a new car. The 1992 Geo Prizm is getting kind of old. It is needing to get stuff replaced. It is loud and ugly and a little embarassing. But it is not time yet.

This year, my priority was to buy my first home. In order to do this, I had to do a couple of things. I had to take on some debt for the downpayment. I had to increase the amount I was paying monthly for housing.

I also had to put off buying a new car.

But it's not so bad, right? I have heard the Geo Prizm called "the ultimate frugal car." I have been told over and over again that it will "run forever." Even if I am putting a thousand dollars each year worth of maintenance into it (I'm not, yet) it will still be cheaper than buying a new car.

Besides, it gets me to work, and all the other places that I need to go.

My plan of action for a new car is familiar to most people who are frugal, but completely foreign to others. After my down payment debt is paid off, I will start making a monthly payment to myself. Depending on what else I have to save for and my motivation, I hope to put $200+ a month for the new car. If the old car craps out before this, I will take the money I have saved and put it toward a new (new-used, actually) car so that my payments will be lower and/or take less time to pay off. Hopefully, though. my little Geo will keep on going until I have enough saved.

I can't wait!
Got Health Care? Probably not! The number of people lacking health insurance right now seems to be high. This can be depressing, disappointing, and frustrating.

Even with insurance, you can get screwed financially. Currently, I am completely blessed to have a wonderful job with the best benefits I have ever heard of. Ever. this is even more of a blessing after being uninsured for nearly three years. Here are some things that I have been trying to do to reduce health care costs.

Prevention!
Take care of yourself. Eat right. Don't eat a lot of sugar. (I fail pretty hard at this one, but you know.) Get the right amount of sleep. Exercise (or just go for walks!) Don't over-schedule yourself. Have a positive attitude. It sounds stupid, but a positive attitude is my biggest health benefit. It makes all the other things easier, even if it took many years to acquire. If you are a woman, get your girly exam once a year. If you are sexually active, get tested after every new partner. Don't screw around with your health.

Alternative Medicine!
As we speak, I am taking my vitamins and soaking my foot in an oatmeal bath. It sounds bizarre, but don't knock it until you've tried it. My life has improved by leaps and bounds since I started doing acupuncture on a weekly basis, taking vitamins for depression and other things. I also have a doctor who doubles as a naturopath. All of these factors have helped to keep me healthy.

Find a good doctor!
When I was uninsured, I hated paying hundreds out of pocket for office visits with jerks. Unfortunately, sometimes you're going to have to pay hundreds out of pocket. But don't pay it to jerks. Find a good office that will let you self-pay, and find a wonderful doctor there. THIS WILL TAKE WORK. But it will make you happier in the end. In Seattle I really enjoy the Country Doctor. Now that I am insured, I still go there. I also recommend Planned Parenthood. They helped me with free birth control and low cost exams for years.

Rest BEFORE you get sick!
Doing this helped me fend off a lot of sickness when I was in college. Unfortunately, this is harder to do when you have a job--before I could just skip class and sleep. (Not that I did it unless I really needed to!) Give it a try though. Your sicknesses will not last as long.

Alcohol, Cigarettes and Marijuana! These things are bad for you. Use in moderation or not at all. You'll save a ton of money in many ways. Plus, pot is smelly.

When in doubt, ask! Back in the day, my drunk roommate stepped on my toe with her high heels. (I don't blame her--it was an accident and also her 21st birthday. It happens!) I went to the doctor and she said that she would Xray it. I asked her why and how much it would cost. She said "You know...we don't REALLY need to Xray it. It was just to see." We ended up skipping the Xray and probably several hundred dollars off of my bill. Yes!

You can also call your insurance company to get a rough idea of what things will cost. (That is, if you are insured.) I called mine earlier this week to see how much it would cost to get allergy testing. This let me evaluate whether it was worth it or not. (I think it is.)

Don't look on Web Md to self diagnose! You'll regret it.

These are probably not new ideas to you, but I have found them quite helpful, after much trial and error with this ridiculous system that Americans call health "care". Good luck!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Buying a Home


Hi Readers!*

I have recently purchased my first home. It is a coop unit in Seattle. Yay!

This is an exciting time for me. I will take on a mortgage. I will have my own space. I will get to paint the walls whatever color I want!

It is also a big expense. My mortgage is going to be several hundred dollars more per month than what I pay for rent right now. A lot of people are asking me why I bother. I did some thinking, and some calculations, and here's what I have come up with...

1. Owning a home is a priority for me. It is one of my life goals. I value stability and a sense of ownership. This is my main reason for buying.

2. Even though the expense will be more per months, I will not be struggling. Currently, I save a large portion of my income every month. Instead of cutting into my spending money, it will be cutting into my savings money by about half. Basically, instead of saving, I will be putting my money into my home, which is an investment. Fortunately, I will still be able to save a significant amount every month if I continue to maintain my current standards of living.

3. I just calculated what I have paid in rent my whole life. It adds up to approximately $31,641 in six and a half years. Wow. That doesn't include deposits, moving costs, etc.

4. Though my mortgage is higher, my building has several amenities and benefits that will save me money in the long run. There is an exercise room and a pool, so I will never need a gym membership. (Not that I wanted one anyway, but I wanted to brag.) There is also a set of outdoor stairs that run along the side of the building, which I can run up and down for exercise.

Also, laundry is significantly cheaper at this place than it is at my current one. Fifty cents to wash and twenty five cents for thirty minutes of drying! I am in love. (I do still plan to do some hang-drying in my HUGE closet!)

And more--there is cheap parking and a storage space in another area of the building! This is in addition to the very large closets in my unit.

There are also several things that will bring me much enjoyment and in my life--a rooftop deck, an enclosed deck off my unit and a great location where I am within walking distance of plenty of activities. There's also a flight of stairs right outside the front door of my building--my favorite cheap workout.

I am so excited. Now come to my pool party.

*I know I have readers, cause at least three people now have told me that they read. Yes! Comments, please!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saving Money 101: Fall in Love With Your Bank Teller

When I was in high school I went to the bank a LOT.

This is because I had a crush on my bank teller.

Erek was a super hot, super awkward curly headed bank teller in my hometown. I worked as a babysitter. I always told the parents to pay me with a check.

That's about all there is to the story, actually. But it helped me save money. Think about it.

Don't YOU want to appear totally cool and responsible to your hot bank teller? Yes. I do. Who doesn't?

Unfortunately, I don't have a hot bank teller any more. Are there any hot Bank of America Tellers in Seattle? If so, please point me their way.

I am also willing to switch banks, if necessary.

Please leave recommendations in the comments. Thanks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cheap Exercise Tip

I think I am going to take up hula hooping. I have heard that it is good for your abs.

So far I have read that you should hula hoop twice a day for ten minutes.

Imagine that! Hula hooping for health! I am excited to see if this works. But it must, right? You are using muscles and getting an aerobic workout.

My hula hoop only cost $5. Eventually, if all goes well, I may upgrade to a heavier one.

Rad.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Making the Most Of Your Sick Days

Today I am sick and staying home from work.

It sounds silly, but there ARE efficient ways to stay home from work due to illness that will save you money in the end. Luckily at my job now I get sick time, but I still, of course, want to minimize my time away.

Here are some things that I learned in the past couple of years:

1. Stay home BEFORE you get too sick. I very well could have gone in to work today. It wasn't going to be a very busy day, so I could have handled it. But I didn't. Why? Over-exerting myself today would have just made my illness worse for the rest of the week. By tackling it just as it is coming, I am saving myself time later in the week.

2. Spend your time actually RESTING. I have a tendency to want to get things done when I have time off. But this is not the way that sick time is meant to be spent. Today I really want to clean my house and go to the store and go exercise. No. These things will not contribute to my wellness. My job today is to sit around, take naps, and drink tea.

3. Avoid sugar and bad foods. This is hard. But really helpful. Sugar just makes you hold the sickness in longer. Or something like that.

4. Use remedies that work for you. I am a big fan of Zicam Zinc Nasal Swabs. The earlier you use them, the better. I'm also a big fan of airborne, but I am starting to think that it tastes really good, meaning it probably has a ton of sugar in it. I am going to look into getting some Vitamin C Tablets today instead.

5. Take care of yourself when you do return to work. Make sure you eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and continue with helpful remedies. I will be going back tomorrow, most likely, and I will have to make sure that I don't over-exert myself. I will also be taking it easy after work tomorrow and as long as I can.

6. It sounds like a no-brainer, but DON'T go out with your friends. In the past on sick days I would be like "Oh, I'm sick, but I want to be social, so I'll go have some bitters in soda water or a screwdriver or something." Bad, bad. Really. Avoiding rest and drinking alcohol is probably the worst thing that you can do. If you want to be social...well, don't. Wait until later. I know it's hard.

Okay. Now that is said, I am going to go rest now. And drink more tea. And take vitamins...

Friday, March 6, 2009

March Meal Planning

I did some grocery shopping.
This month, instead of doing a calendar with a menu on it, I just did a list of meals and bought for all of them. I feel pretty well stocked. Here is the list of meals I will soon be eating (if I have not already eaten them).

1. Chicken with Cheddar and Broccoli Soup, Broccoli and Potatoes
2. Chicken with Cream of Mushroom Soup and Potatoes
3. Chicken Burgers with Butternut Squash Fries
4. Veggie Pizza with Fiber One Crust
5. TVP Tacos
6. Nachos
7. Quesadillas
8. Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich
9. Pasta with Red Sauce and TVP
10. Pasta with Pesto
11. Ravioli with Red Sauce
12. Stir Fried Vegetables with Egg
13. Yakisoba Noodles with Vegetables and Egg
14. Barbecue Chicken Wraps
15. Chili
16. Teriyaki Chicken with Edamame
17. Egg flower soup
18. Black Bean and Cheddar Soup
19. Tuna Melt
20. Pumpkin Salsa Soup
21. Salmon, mashed potatoes and green beans
22. Frozen Lasagna
23. Falafel
24. Hella Salad
25. Turkey and Avocado Wrap
26. Red Curry
27. Vegetables with Simmer Sauce

Oh, except I did not buy the frozen lasagna. Too expensive. I want to learn how to make my own, but that's expensive, too.

Go me! I have some goals this month. One is to not eat out so much, because that is kind of pointless, sometimes.

Coke Rewards Again


I just bought two sweet things with my Coke Rewards Points.

1. A free 12 pack of Coke. Sweet. I will probably get Coke Zero. I spent the points and they will send a coupon in the mail. I redeem it. Bring Coke home. Put the points from that package into my account. Repeat.

2. A subscription to Self Magazine. Because why not?

There are some higher point items on the site that I want, like an exercise ball for 1700 points. But, that would just be too much. I think you get ten points per twelve pack that you buy, and by the time that I drink 170 twelve packs of Coke I will be dead and/or the promotion will be over. So no.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shopping!

Today I went shopping. I shopped for over three hours.

I was not pleased.

You see, I bought those expensive (expensive EXPENSIVE) jeans a while back. They are absolutely wonderful and pretty much worth the expense. Yet, I am having a hard time finding cute and sexy shirts to wear with them.

Because I normally wear dresses, I have a hard time feeling feminine in pants. So I try to wear only my most feminine shirts with pants. And as of right now, I am sorely lacking feminine shirts.

So today I went on an adventure to find them.

And do you know what I bought? Nothing.

I see that as a good thing and a bad thing. But mostly a good thing.

I went to several stores: two fancypants stores downtown to check out the sales, Nordstrom Rack, a vintage store in Pike Place Market, Macy's, Anthropologie, The Gap, Old Navy, another vintage store on Capitol Hill and Value Village. This was a nice range of prices and selections. But I still found nothing.

In the past couple of years I have decided that I am only going to buy things that I absolutely love. There is no point in me buying something that I do not feel absolutely amazing in. If it makes me feel boyish or fat or unattractive I don't get it. It must be beautiful, flattering and almost perfect. Otherwise, what is the point?

Clothing and the way I dress is extremely important to me. I was talking to a friend about this today. I am not an artist, yet I express myself daily through what I wear. My creativity comes through my clothes. If I am going to buy something, it must fit the message that I want to convey exactly.

So, the search for a perfect shirt to go with my expensive jeans rages on. And that is okay.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just so we all know...

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I plan on seeing how my tv works for this and then evaluating. I don't NEED tv. But it would be nice to continue to have Gossip Girl available.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Some good jeans.


I just spent way, way too much money on jeans.

I am brand loyal to some things. Jeans is one of them. I really like Lucky Jeans. They say "Lucky You" under the zipper, come with a fortune in the pocket, and fit really nice. They also last a long time--I have been wearing my first pair since 2004. Of course, I don't wear them very often, but they still do me well.

I have lost a little bit of weight in the past year, so my most recent pair of Lucky Jeans was getting a little big. I needed something new. Something sexy. Some well fitting jeans.

Of course, I didn't want to pay full price for them. So, as I usually do, I waited for Lucky's sale that happens twice per year. Twice per year most of their jeans are fifty percent off!

I went in and picked out a whole bunch of pairs. I tried them all on. Only one pair fit really well. I brought it up to the extremely hot dude at the cash register. He rang me up. It was....$140.

"$140?!" I screeched. "I thought they were half off!" Of course, the only nice fitting pair were NOT on sale. Stupid. Stupid. The salesboy then looked at me with his blue blue eyes and told me that he would go look and see if they went on sale any time soon. When he returned, he informed me that he did not.

And you know what? I bought them anyway. I am a little ashamed. $140 is too much for jeans. But, they are an investment. I believe that if you are going to buy something, you should buy something that you really love for a lot of money than something you kind of love for a little money.

I could've bought the half off jeans. But I wouldn't have wanted to wear them nearly as much as I do these ones. I had been looking for a while. And believe me, Goodwill does not have well-fitting jeans, let alone well fitting Lucky jeans.

Plus, buying these jeans helped hot salesboy get some commission, I hope.

So you may think I am frivolous. Foolish. Not frugal. And I might agree.

But less than a week after I got the jeans my friend's friend told me that my ass was amazing. Case closed.

Bring Your Lunch.

I hate this piece of advice. I see it everywhere. Everywhere! But it's so, so true.

I have been at my job for almost two months now. I have bought lunch once. At Popeye's. It wasn't very good. Or healthy.

I have worked 25 days at the new job. I have bought 24 lunches. A lunch "out" (fast food is running approximately $6.50 a meal now, if you get a drink, a hamburger and fries. Total? I have saved $156.

With that money I can buy almost enough groceries to last me for a month.

So while it may seem like dumb advice...

BRING YOUR LUNCH.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Auto Insurance - The Ads Don't Lie


Just FYI--I just saved a huge amount on my car insurance by switching to Geico.

Really.

I WAS paying $98.84 per month for Car Insurance and Renter's Insurance.

I NOW pay $54 per month for Car Insurance and Renter's Insurance.

Look into it.

Also, RENTER'S INSURANCE IS REALLY IMPORTANT. Believe me. One time my apartment building almost burnt down in a huge fire that was caused by some drunk passed out duder cooking french fries. The place BURNED. Our apartment didn't burn specifically, but the smoke damage and post traumatic stress was enough to put me out of work, cause me to do a ton of laundry, and generally just make me grumpy and depressed.

Also, I STILL have items in my house that are smoke damaged.

Renter's Insurance would've made this situation a lot easier. Plus, they'll put you up in a hotel so you won't have to burden your friends with your post-traumatic stress.

Think about that.

PS this picture is from the actual fire. See the upper-left hand corner? That is where my roommate, ex-boyfriend and I were. What a way to wake up!

Financial Goals for the Year





I've got big dreams.

1. Save $10,000 for a condo down payment by January 1, 2009. (If the market gets low enough so it is worth it to buy now rather than later, I will get temporary parental help and begin paying that off accordingly.)

2. Go on a vacation. Use only money from my vacation fund to go on that vacation. Vacation fund was started today. Current balance: $100. San Francisco and/or LA, here I come!

3. Any money I get back from my job for mileage goes into my New Car Fund.

4. Keep a small fund for unexpected expenses/emergencies. Dip into Condo Down Payment fund in event of a major emergency. Hopefully there will be none of those. Use credit card as last resort for emergencies.

5. Do not wrack up credit card debt. Continue to build awesome credit.

6. Continue to save for retirement so that I will be able to live comfortably when I get older.

7. Once I have saved the appropriate amount for the above things, I am allowed to buy stupid things, such as expensive jeans, coffee shop drinks, alcohol, and fancy clothes. However, I am NOT allowed to buy these things if they cut into my savings or put me into debt. I figure that I am putting so much away that I can spend the rest on whatever I damn well please. While still being frugal. And bringing my lunch to work every day.