Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cha-ching! Cha-ching! Money woes...

Remember being in high school and college and going days, maybe weeks without spending a dime? In college there was food service or the sorority house kitchen that we ate all our meals in. We rode to and from places using the bus on campus or hoofing it. Beer was free at the frat houses or house parties we attended (being a girl is good). What did we need money for?

I miss those days. A lot.

This past year I quit my job and have drastically had to analyze my spending habits and although during the school year I can live pretty much the same way as I always had, the summer was a different story. I didn't have near enough savings to get me through the summer without a part time job, but I couldn't start the part time job until July after half of my summer courses were over. Insert problem.

I figured, ok. I can make it. Which I did, I am. Has it sucked? Yes. Am I learning? Heck yeah! I'm realizing all of the silly, stupid things I waste money on. The past couple months have been interesting and I have grown quite a bit. I've used the ol' credit card a little too much, and am excited to get it BACK down to a $0 balance soon.

After analyzing my spending habits and going through it with a fine tooth comb here is what I discovered I could cut back on.

1. Gym. I spend $32 a month on a gym membership when I can get the exact same thing on campus. I'm still debating whether I want to give this up or not because the gym membership is so convenient and the campus gym is so not. I live about 20 minutes from campus, so you see my dilemma. Working out outdoors is not an option for me year round. I live in Iowa. Brrrr.

2. Food. I am terrible at using leftovers and I let a lot of food go to waste. I really need to learn to eat what is in my cupboards before going to the store and restricting myself to $50 a week in groceries. That should be plenty for just me. Somehow, it never is though.

3. Gas. I could be a bit more pro-active here. I always jump to drive and don't think twice about driving all over the place. Some days with a little extra planning I know I could cut out quite a bit of miles.

4. Books. I can't stop buying books. If there is a new book out that I have been wanting to read, I buy it. I used to be so good at utilizing the library, and I am actually getting better again, but I am still bad and buy a lot of books. I don't plan to cut it out completely because I enjoy owning the books and want to support my favorite authors, but there are many books that just sit on my shelf and go unread for years. Yes, years.

5. Kohl's. Yep, Kohl's. That place sucks me in every time. I get those dang $10 coupons in the mail and I just have to go use it! It's a free $10! But, that $10 always turns into $50. :/

6. Drinks. My friends like to go out. I like to go out. I feel sick when I think about the money we spend in bars. It's ridiculous how much drinks cost these days and not to mention it's just not good for you to indulge so much.

Now, not to be a negative nancy, there are many times that I am good at when it comes to dealing with money.

1. Textbooks. I despise how expensive textbooks are. I have no problem emailing the prof before the class starts to see if we can purchase an older used edition online. I am a pro at finding the book for the cheapest price available.

2. Markdowns on clothing. I was in retail. I also majored in fashion merchandising. I can eyeball just about anything and estimate the percent of markup and let me tell you... it's disgusting. That will make you put down that awesome top that is full price almost immediately! Wait for it to go on sale or look for a coupon.

3. Coupons. I'm not the greatest with grocery coupons, but coupons for retail stores? I am on it. Thank goodness for stores that accept iPhone images because I have been known to quickly search for a coupon code while in the store and show the associate to get my discount. Works every time.

4. Parents. Yep, parents. I totally take advantage. Ten years ago I moved out of the house and about four years after that my sister moved out and I think my mother still has empty nest syndrome. She is constantly inviting us over for dinner and urging us to eat at their house. I think she just doesn't know how to cook for just two people after cooking for four for so long. I don't really consider it taking advantage though, because I enjoy my parents company. My dad is a big reader like me, and my mom and I enjoy most of the same shows. It's fun to have quality time at their house a couple times a week and I know they like having us over.

5. Library. Wait, how can books be in both categories you ask? Well, although I think I can do better at utilizing the library, I do still use the library more than the average person (at least I think so). I am constantly putting books on hold and regularly visit three of our local libraries.

There you have it, my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to handling money. I might be missing a few things, I sort of wrote this spur of the moment, but oh well. Isn't it interesting peaking into another person's spending habits? It's like looking into their medicine cabinet while using the restroom in their house. Off limits, but oh-so-interesting. ;)

Where do you spend money unnecessarily? When are you good at finding the best deals?


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I am not so great at findng good deals, mostly because I am not patient enough to shop around. That said, I do not shop very oftne. I will buy some things here and there, but in general, I shop for clothes about 4 times a year!

I have been bleeding money since moving. Between hiring movers and having to do some things to my condo that I rented out, it's been an expensive couple of months. i have been reigning in spending by only going to Caribou on Fridays, packing lunch, giong ot the farmers market (so much cheaper than the grocery store produce, and so much better) and biking EVERYWHERE. I rarely drive my car. Once I am done with these out of town trips, I will probably fill my tank once a week - which is awesome. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, it sounds like your Kohls problem is exactly like my drug store program! Because I've been working long hours I tend to splurge on anything make up, nail polish or pampering related that I can use to take care of myself. I cannot walk in without leaving a little trail of money behind me... lol

One of the best ways I have of saving money is to go 100% cash. I've been using my credit card and sticking to my budget but something about cash just makes it more real. I find it helpful to withdraw a set amount of money each week and then stick to only spending that.

Though I don't know if I'm *really* ready to curb the expansion of my nail polish collection... :)

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I thought I would have more money when I started working full-time but turns out we just have more bills!

I am HARDCORE about my savings though. That is the first place money goes every paycheque and I have a nice little nest egg built up (which is about to deplete between getting the puppy and the harry potter world trip...oh well, life is for living right!)

Also, do not feel bad about the parents thing. My parents still pay for a lot of stuff for us when we visit or they visit (read: dinners out, groceries etc.) THEY OFFER and it makes them happy to help us out. PLUS they have the money to do it. I hate it when people try to make me feel bad for letting my parents pay for things for us sometimes because I know they like to it's not like we ask them to or are asking them for money that will break them, ya know?

I liked this post a lot :)

Lesli said...

I liked your post a lot too! I blow money on gas because of my penchant for running all over Minneapolis without really planning my trips well and going shopping in far-flung corners of the Twin Cities. Which brings me to my biggest money sapper, shopping. I am taking an art class at Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka & before class I somehow have 45 minutes to kill so I have been spending it on coffee at Caribou and Macy's (totally not necessary) and buying fun tops and jewelry at Francesca's!

Lesli said...

P.S. Oh, but for my best deals! I am really good at entering & winning contests on Facebook--I have won stuff at Z'Mariks, Melting Pot and Woodbury Lakes Grill, among others--so free food! I am also good at joining all those restaurant and product loyalty websites where you get coupons off dinner and ice cream, blah blah blah. It adds up.

Heather said...

Ha spending seems to be the story of my life. I have written out budget after budget. It seems like I can follow my budget with my savings, but I cant track everyday spending....because there is A LOT!!!

I wouldnt feel bad about going to your parents. My parents are the same. They invite us over for dinner, give us the leftovers...parents enjoy their kids company.

Shoshanah said...

It probably won't come as a surprise, but it's definitely books. Although food, like restaurants or just expensive snack food is up there. I don't really buy clothes, so at least that isn't an issue for me. But the amount of money I've been spending on books lately, there's not a whole lot else to go around

Becky said...

As far as gas and food goes, prep-work can be a pain but can go a long way. Meal-planning (even if it's only a couple meals a week), and packing up leftovers after dinner (and not letting them sit out) for lunch the next day has been my best line of defense.

Same thing with gas - lets you look up gas prices according to your zip code to find the lowest price. If I have a bunch of errands to run, I'll plan out the order to do them so I start the furthest from my house and work my way back, making a loop of it - that way I'm not running back and forth.

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I always end up spending money on dvds. Plus things like books and jewelry.