Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Way Behind, But Stil Chugging Along

First, the new tips:

#11: Never pay full retail for clothes/eyeglasses again.

My clothes buying moratorium is taking care of this. In the last three months, I have spent exactly 12.51 on clothing/eyeglasses, and don't plan to spend any more till August.

#12: Save on eating out with Restaurant.com.

I already do this, AND I only buy when they are 80% off, so a $25 gift certificate is only $2

#13: Negotiate Car Insurance.

I usually check a bunch of different insurance companies online every six months or so, and have negotiated my rate down by about $200 every six months, but when your record looks like mine there's only so much you can do. However, I will try this again soon (because I am close to when my insurance would renew) because I'll be 25, married, and only have 2 tickets on my 3 year record as of December 20th-ish. I will use the phone as suggested in this tip and see if it helps any. Stay tuned!

#14: Use self-persuasion to share how much I've saved so far.

-Not eating out for lunch for the last two weeks (blew week 1, but did good 2 weeks): $20 saved, will be $30 at end of month.

-Thermostat temp redux: assumed 10% of heating costs, so $8 saved.

-Sell something on e-bay (I used Craigslist): $20 earned.

-Tell friends: $0, but accountability, which is good.

-Optimize cell phone bill: $5 saved, unless I go over texting, but so far so good.

-Gas price hedge fund: $20 has been transferred into savings ($10 per week), by end of month it will be $30.

-No spending day each week: $0 saved because I don't normally spend on Wednesdays anyway, but it makes me more conscious of spending, so good tip anyway.

-Cut subscriptions: $0 saved. I have no subscriptions.

-Only buy new if you will get rid of old: $0 saved, but more conscious of buying things in general, and giving old stuff if decent to people who need it.

-Use rewards programs: $0 saved, but only because I rarely buy stuff anymore. I need to keep this in mind if/when we travel again.

-Don't pay retail for clothes/eyeglasses: Technically, the tip didn't save me anything since I'd already been not buying clothes for three months, BUT if you count those three months and take the average I spent on clothing in the 17 months prior to that, by not buying clothes (except the leggings) I saved about $112 per month for three months, minus the leggings, for a total of 323.49. Pretty good! And when I'm allowed to shop for clothes again, I'm going to try thrift stores. :)

-Use Restaurant.com gift certificates bought at 80% off:
This (and having a kitchen) has helped me go from an all-time high (living by myself in the apartment) of (oh my lord this is staggering).....get ready.....$376.50 last July to between $30 and $50 a month now. (ASIDE: OH MY GOD I SPENT THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS ON EATING OUT--JUST EATING OUT, NOT GROCERIES TOO, OF WHICH I PURCHASED AS WELL--IN ONE MONTH. ONE. MONTH). Wow. How far I have come. Just wow. Average this year, before the house, was about $200 per month (remember, I didn't cook, and didn't buy many groceries. But yeah, that is still A LOT). So for argument's sake, we'll say I saved $150 by eating out less and getting GC's from Restaurant.com.

-Car insurance: Since I do this every so often and it's saved me about $200 / six months, I will call that $33 saved this month.

So total, I have saved $375.49 (I only counted one month's worth of the clothing savings in there) this month. Pretty good, no?

Tip #15: Forget going to a bar - ask people over for dinner!

Doing that with friends now instead of meeting places, usually. It has saved lots of time AND money. And it's easier to talk at home on the couch than in a crowded noisy dining room. I need to work on not cooking elaborate stuff that causes me to stress out though. :/

Tip #16: Cancel any large purchases this month.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....oops. Sorry. I know I'm not supposed to be laughing at the money-saving tips, but....um....all the large purchases in our house are canceled for at least the rest of the year. We got the alarm system--much needed--but it blew our budget and cut into savings, so we are holding out on anything else. Including replacing the laptop that was stolen (especially since kind, wonderful friends gave us one that will at least get me through homework!).

Tip #17: Buy generic for stuff you don't care about.

I do this with body wash, paper towels, kleenex, peanut butter, milk (though I do care, but it tastes fine)...but I could probably do more. I will keep that in mind next time I'm at the store.

Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year:
Our families are pretty inexpensive as far as Christmas goes, and I just can't see not giving gifts to our neices and nephews, who a) wouldn't understand and b) are just as happy with inexpensive gifts. We will opt out of adult name drawing (my side of the family) and the dirty santa game (his side) if necessary, but since we are already sparse with the giving and I am ok with who we do give to, we will keep doing Christmas. It just might be smaller than normal this year. And I think we are giving each other gifts of TIME, not things.

Tip #19 (paraphrased): Use online shopping to save money on name brand clothes, organic food, etc.

This tip just made me want to buy stuff that I wouldn't have normally...but for things I already buy this might be a good deal. Just have to watch myself and not buy stuff just because it's cute and on sale.

Tip #20: Change the date of Christmas

The gist of this is do Christmas earlier (or later) depending on when it's cheaper to fly. I don't have to fly, so this does not apply to me. I guess we could be REALLY cheap and do Christmas a couple days after the actual date, shopping the day after and saving money, but really. That's a bit too much, to me.

On to other stuff:

I think buying the house was my wake up call. I LOVE our house, I love coming home to it every day, I love the wood floors, I love the kitchen and cooking, I love that my cats are happy, that I have a bedroom separate from everything else, that I can have people over and they have somewhere to sleep, that I can host gatherings and have dinner parties, that I HAVE A CHRISTMAS TREE (free from freecycle! it rocks!) and could decorate...

But most of all, I love that it forced a monumental shift in the way I spend money and think about money. I don't really miss eating out or never being home. Husband and I went out to eat on Friday night and it was insanely good because it was such a treat, BUT it was much saltier than I remembered and much greasier, and my stomach felt strange the next day (only mildly, but still). I also think I am healthier now. I lost weight from being sick (not much, but a little)--but even aside from that, I feel better, I eat better, and I'm not gaining weight anymore (which I had started doing over the summer from all the restaurant food). Also, my quality of life is SO much better--it's like night and day. Home is once again a place of solace rather than being depressing. I also don't miss spending lots of money on clothes and stuff--I have PLENTY, probably too much, clothing as it is, and not room for it all anyway. (Still weeding out).

So yay house. So far so good.

School is, however, NOT so good. I'm not doing badly (I don't think) but I HATE it. With every fiber of my being. It's stupid and pointless and not as important to me anymore what with a house and a marriage and a job, but I'm going to finish now because I only have two semesters left. I do at least like my job and engineering, which means the degree will actually help. I think I'll be glad that I have it when I finally finish. I'm becoming very, very good at just not thinking about it (...like when I started. I decided to apply, got in, and simply refused to question the decision again until I get done...maybe not always the best philosophy, but my usual way, and in this case it will work out).

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