While the cat’s away…
June 29, 2008, 11:39 am
Filed under: About me, Relationships

Jake spent last night at his brother’s house since they needed to get up early this morning to play a rousing game of golf. Home alone, I was content reading for a good couple of hours and figured I would hit the hay early since I had a long, sweaty day of moving behind me. I hopped on my computer between chapters and saw that my best friend was online, so I sent her an instant message. I wound up calling her a few minutes later because, sometimes, it’s just easier to say things than to type them out.

We stayed on the phone until 2:30am talking about politics, weddings, school.  It was so good to have a long talk with her as we haven’t been able to in ages due to the distance (she still lives in Pennsylvania and I’m down in Virginia) and life generally getting in the way.

The cost of reconnecting with my best friend of 14 years: free.
The value of reconnecting with my best friend of 14 years: priceless.

You call that a vacation?
June 20, 2008, 8:10 pm
Filed under: About me, Coupons, Food, Frugality, Relationships, Travel

I really enjoyed my vacation, but man, we sure did a lot of stuff. We drove from Virginia to Pennsylvania, saw my friends and family there and spent the night. The following morning we drove from Pennsylvania to upstate New York to see Jake’s family for a few days. While we were there, we drove to Burlington, Vermont and Montreal, Canada. On our way from upstate New York back down to Pennsylvania, we stopped in Woodstock, NY to have lunch. We spent the night in PA and saw some of both Jake’s and my families, then drove back home to Virginia.

Somehow along the way, we managed to adopted Basil, a part Siamese cat, from one of Jake’s aunts. The poor little guy was being terrorized by her three dogs and we just couldn’t say no to rescuing him. Our dog, Honey, and Basil are slowly working things out.

My two favorite frugal things about our trip both have to do with Jake’s mom. My future mother in law works at the family grocery store. Over Sunday breakfast, I casually told Jake that I had to buy the newspaper. He gave me a funny look (why would I want the newspaper from upstate NY?) and then he unscrewed his face and said, “Oh, coupons.” Jake’s mom happened to overhear and said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I can get a whole bunch from the store for you.” She not only got me a few copies of Sunday’s coupons, she also got me a bundle of last week’s coupons too. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my future mother in law? She’s also going to try and snag some for me every week and mail them to me. 🙂

Another perk of knowing someone who works at a grocery store is access to “out dates” or food that’s recently expired that the store can no longer sell even though the food is still perfectly fine. Jake’s mom went through everything for us and we came home with a whole boxful of free food.

Today is Jake’s and my three year anniversary, so I’m going to have to cut this post short so I can enjoy the rest of the evening with the one that I love. I hope your past week as been a bit more leisurely than mine.

Good news
May 19, 2008, 9:06 pm
Filed under: About me, Careers, Coupons, Library Science, Travel

First, I wanted to mention that I came across another electronic coupon website since I last posted about such programs. Unilever has joined the ranks with MakingLifeBetter ecoupons. Be sure to sign up if you have a participating store near you and enjoy the extra savings!

Second, while stuck in traffic coming home from work today, I checked my voicemail and heard some wonderful news that made my day: one of the local high schools wants to interview me for a full time library assistant position I applied for! Squee! I’m going to call the woman back tomorrow and set up an interview for Friday.

Third, Jake’s dad called him up and offered to pay for us to come up and visit his family next month. We’ve been wanting to go up and see them, but were worried about how we were going to pay for it. Have I mentioned how wonderful Jake’s family is?

Fourth, I’ve received more than I ever thought I would from family and friends for graduation and I’m in the process of transferring it all to savings. I just love watching the balance go higher and higher as the weeks go by.

Fifth, my birthday is on Wednesday.

Graduation and our next apartment
May 12, 2008, 4:36 pm
Filed under: About me, College, Frugality

Hi again. I’m all rested up and ready to get back into the swing of blogging.

My college graduation went well, overall. Despite the rain, the ceremony was still held outside so everyone got muddy and soaked. I’m pretty sure my shoes are ruined from all the mud and I have to go get my silk dress dry cleaned again because of all the water stains and mud spots on it. I threw my graduation gown away once I got home because there was just so much mud down the back of it (because my shoes flung around mud with every step I took). I also had to throw away my cap because the cardboard got all warped from the rain and the fabric came unglued. Quality items, let me tell you. It was wonderful to see all my friends and professors again though and I really don’t regret deciding to walk with my class.

Jake and I had a tough decision to make this weekend, but we’ve finally decided on and secured our next apartment. Jake had gone and seen a house for rent while I was at work a few weeks ago and I had gone and seen an apartment for rent while he was at work last week. After reviewing our applications, the two landlords offered us the two places at about the same time.

The house is a few blocks away and, from what I can tell from the pictures, it’s adorable. 2 bedroom, washer and dryer, back yard, front and back porches, and dog friendly. $850 a month, plus an extra $200 security deposit as well as $10 extra a month for having a dog. No utilities included.

The apartment is the first floor of a duplex and is a mere block away. We can almost see it from the front of our current apartment building. It’s nice enough, but nothing spectacular. 2 bedroom, washer and dryer, back yard, front and back porches, and dog friendly. $750 a month. No extra deposit or monthly increase for having a dog. No utilities included.

Both landlords are super nice and seem to have their stuff together. We went for the apartment because $860 is slightly more than we feel comfortable paying for rent and we want to make sure that we’ll have enough money after rent and utilities are paid every month. If I get one of the full time positions I’ve been applying for lately, the house would be affordable, but we can’t rely on something that may not happen. When in doubt, choose frugal.

We’re really excited to move even though it won’t happen until the beginning of July. We’re probably going to be getting Jake’s parents’ sectional for the living room (since they don’t have room for it at their new place and our futon is on its last legs) and I’m going to keep my eye out for some cheap/free chairs and tables for the porches. Ah, the joys of moving.

April 29, 2008, 10:16 pm
Filed under: 20something, About me, Frugality

Earlier this evening, I was walking back to my apartment from my local Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop with an ice cream cone in one hand and Honey’s lease in the other and I asked myself, why do I live frugally? Today was free cone day at Ben and Jerry’s and as soon as I got home from work and gathered up my dog, I booked it for my free ice cream. I was scrambling to get in line before 7pm, the official end of their generosity. When I finally got my cone a little past 7 and I began walking home at a leisurely pace, I realized that I didn’t need to go to all the trouble I went to for an ice cream cone. After all, a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s is only three or four bucks. Why was I trying so hard to save a few measly dollars? Why am I constantly trying so hard to save money? Some of my readers may be asking the very same questions so I thought it wise to outline why I choose to live frugally.

I am young, quite young in fact, and I know that I have plenty of time to worry about all things financial. But I also realize that my youth affords me time to optimize my smart moves and to neutralize my bad ones. Compound interest is on my side and I plan to take full advantage of it so that I can reap the most rewards. I’ve chosen the art of frugality to free up my money so that I can put as much of it into savings as I can and watch it grow over the years.

The strongest driving force behind my frugal efforts is the simple fact that I don’t have money to throw around. Not surprisingly, my two part time jobs don’t afford me all the luxuries life offers. Yes, I could use my credit card to satisfy my urge for new things or better quality, but spending more than you earn is one of the stupidest things you could ever do. You will pay at least double the original purchase price in interest and dig yourself into a hole that you may never get out of. I honestly don’t think I will ever make a lot of money because those of us who enter the field of liberal arts rarely do. We follow our passions and manage with whatever compensation we can receive from them. I came to terms with that fact a long time ago and have begun functioning financially in that mind set.

The desire for a strong financial future goes hand in hand with a frugal lifestyle. I don’t want to have to worry about how I’m going to pay for things when I’m older. Having bulging savings accounts offers that peace of mind. I want to eventually be financially independent so I can stop working whenever I want if I’m unhappy with my job or if I decide to have a baby and be a stay at home mom. I would like to retire early, pay for a car and or a house in cash (or mostly cash), travel extensively, and pay for Jake’s and my wedding in full. The only way I can meet all of these goals is if I don’t waste my money on things that are temporary and hold no greater significance. Every dollar that is spent on things that are outside of my goals set me back. 

Pure and simple, wasting my money today wastes my chances of having a satisfying future. A frugal lifestyle is more than just a way to squeeze out the money I need for bills. It gives me the blinders I need to stay focused on the things that will continue to matter to me for the rest of my life.

7 random things about me
April 11, 2008, 3:25 pm
Filed under: About me

Kacie over at Sense to Save tagged me for the “7 random things about me” meme. I figured I’d oblige since my blog is only a little over a month old and my readers don’t know many personal things about me outside of money issues.

1. I was born in New Jersey, grew up in Pennsylvania, and moved to Virginia when I started college. I currently live in Richmond, VA. Since I don’t plan on staying here for the rest of my life, chances are, I will move again in a few years.

2. Musically, I really enjoy “oldies.” My favorite band is the Beatles and I’ve taken out countless CDs from my library to expand my knowledge of 60s music. I think my love for old music is due to the fact that, when I was growing up, my parents constantly listened to the oldies stations because they hated 80s music. Guess what? I hate most 80s music too. I do enjoy modern day indie rock, alternative, and rock music. My fiance, Jake, is the lead guitarist in an indie rock band.

3. My dad is an abstract painter. I’ve acquired a smidgen of his talent, but prefer to creatively express myself through writing.

4. I have one older brother. Since graduating high school, we’ve become increasingly close. He never acted much like the typical older child and I never acted much like the typical younger child. He blogs about sports and is a huge Red Sox fan.

5. I absolutely hate horror films. The same goes for excessively bloody or gory action/suspense movies.

6. I very rarely lose anything. Not even a pen.

7. I was my high school yearbook editor. Within a month of graduating, I told off the yearbook adviser and breathed a nice sigh of relief.

Since I don’t know many bloggers who read my site who I can tag, anyone can fill out the meme if you feel so inclined.

The cost of graduating
April 1, 2008, 6:54 pm
Filed under: 20something, About me, College

This post was included in the April 7th Carnvial of Twenty Something Finances over at The Baglady.

…because all of that student loan debt isn’t enough! 

While I did receive my college diploma this past summer, I have yet to walk in a graduation ceremony. My alma mater is quite small and only has a yearly commencement in May. I’ve been collecting all of the papers my school has diligently sent me over the past couple of months regarding commencement. This morning, I finally sat down with all of them and took care of the preparations.

Before I even spent time with the documents though, I needed to consider if I were even going to attend the ceremony. I mean, the whole thing will be pretty anticlimactic as I’ve been a college graduate for almost 9 months now. Plus, there’s something about a college graduation that isn’t as universally poignant as a high school graduation. Regardless, I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t attend my commencement. To miss seeing my college friends one last time, in all of our academic splendor, would indeed be a shame. My family would also be disappointed if I cut off one of their last chances for them to be a public cheerleader for me.

All signs pointed to yes. I picked up the order forms for the regalia and announcements. My eyes went buggy when I read the price list. $68 for a gown I’ll only wear once?! $62 for notecards and envelopes?! Am I really sure I want to do this??

I took a deep breath and considered my situation. My graduation day is going to and will mean a good deal to me. To shell out a small-ish wad of cash for a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life doesn’t seem like such a bad trade off. No matter how great it would be though, I wouldn’t have that much money to spend on anything that isn’t a necessity if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been making enough extra money lately to cover the additional expenses.

I’ve picked up 4 figure modeling jobs over the last couple of months, netting me $144. I also picked up a few extra hours at the library this week, giving me 80 more dollars than usual. That gives me $224 to spend towards my graduation.

With taxes and shipping added to my regalia and announcements, my credit card was charged a grand total of $147.20.  But, those announcements aren’t going to mail themselves. To send out all 25 of them will cost me $10.25 in stamps (the only reason I bothered with announcements is because of the possibility that I will get some of the money back from any congratulatory checks that will be sent my way from family and friends). I decided against buying honor cords for an organization that I was a member of, but wasn’t actively involved in. Why pay for something that never meant that much to me? I will need to drive to my alma mater to attend the rehearsal and ceremony. Luckily, I only live an hour away from campus. I plan on driving up the morning before commencement to attend the rehearsal and convocation. I will crash at one of my friends’ apartments that night to save on gas and any hotel expenses. The trip there and back usually uses up a half a tank of gas. If gas prices stay around the same price they are now, I’m looking at about $20 in gas. I already own a nice dress (that hopefully doesn’t need to be dry cleaned…) and shoes that I can wear with my gown. That leaves me $46.55 to spend on any meals I may need to buy while I’m in town.

I think the few extra hours I’ve worked to make my attendance possible at my graduation are well worth this opportunity in the long run. After all, I would much rather spend my money on memorable events than on material things that only wind up being replaced by other useless things. Permanent wins over temporary any day in my book.