Monday, November 29, 2010

another post about money, sorry ...

I'm not sure where to begin tonight.

I guess I'm feeling the need for a sounding board :-)

Everything is fine, it's just that I'm stressing about money again. I feel I'm in a money pit I can never quite climb out of.

I wish someone had MADE me save in my twenties, that they hadn't been so darned frivolous and materialistic. i was such a different person back then. shopping at the mall, racking up the credit cards. but i can't change the past, nor the fact that my development as an adult was just not yet complete.

but that leaves me, at 31, not much better off than in those days. i am saddled with student loan debt, credit card debt, and short-term loans that i take out every month to float me by till the next paycheck.

i'm sorry, you've heard this before. i feel like every time i've made a money post in the nearly three years since i've written this blog, i get a hair better. a hair is just not good enough though. i drive by nice houses (not mansions just nice homes) and that's what i want, too. but i know i'll never get there if i can't do what i need to do: get out from under debt and build my nest egg.

every month, i say it's going to be different, and mind you i'm not spending money on ANY frivolities such as furniture, clothes, or knickknacks. but i do VERY occasionally still plop down $12 for a lunch out (cursing myself the while), $2 for a coffee because i woke up too late to make it at home .... i do believe in treating yourself from time to time but if you're really serious shouldn't you just go cold turkey for a time?

it's hard. i've eliminated so much from my life, so much extraneous. it's frustrating to have a job that pays all the bills but leaves no cash for living for the rest of the month. or saving.

so i'm hoping to start with part-time work in january in addition to my full-time job. i only need $150-200/week extra to free up some space for saving and debt reduction. i'm excited about this, although i no doubt will be tired and there will, for a time, be little time for social life pursuits or hobbies. good news is i can make even more money by working some full-time weeks in summer, while i'm still being paid my regular salary by the school.

i am using the debt snowball method to pay off my cc debt, but i just did the first payments using this method and i feel like it didn't even make a ding (only spared $15/extra toward the lowest balance card minimum) .... i know i just have to keep it up and give it time though.

i struggled and struggled with the decision to keep my monthly yoga membership, but in the end it's really economical considering how much i go and also considering i am nearly four payments behind on my health insurance coverage, this is like health insurance for half price. preventive, anyway. i'm hoping a tax refund in january will help me pay the back premiums.

so instead, i'm going to go back to VERY simple meals and still be able to eat healthy, organic, unprocessed, whole foods. yep, rice and beans. pasta. vegetable soups. i'll manage to make it interesting. but seriously, frou frou ingredients are out. i can't give whole foods all my money. i'm going back to kroger for most of my shopping, they don't have the selection the alternative stores do but for basics they do have things like organic beans, and they are cheaper. i can really do it on the food, i'm ashamed to admit i've plunked down $30 or so at the farmer's market alone ... for just ME! i don't waste much food but i think cooking from cookbook whims is a very expensive way to eat that i just can't afford to stomach (literally!) right now. i don't know how much to budget for food when anything went before. if you live alone, what do you budget per week for food? no joke i can spend over $200/month. this must end! i'm hoping that I can do $15/week bare bones. you know, milk, bread, beans, seasonal veg, bulk grains ..... hmmm.....imagine saving $35 a week for month ... that's $140 ... now i've spent $60 instead of $200 ... ahh that's more like it!

i could eliminate my cell phone and save about $55/month. i'm with a no-contract provider so i could sign back up anytime. i like the idea of having a cell phone though for emergencies. if i can give up my horrible texting habits i could suspend that for a temporary time and get a bare-bones plan. apply the savings (maybe $20/month?) to debt and savings.

christmas is coming, and i'll put any money i receive directly into savings. my goal is to build up a small e-fund.

if you've made it this far, thanks for listening. i'd appreciate any suggestions or advice or thoughts you may have, too. i'm already feeling more positive. it's not like i've never been broke before. it's just that i'm sick of it, and i swear that every day that goes by since i've started this blog i've changed my life just a hair more. ah, the hair again. i know that's how big life shifts happen, one day at time. i know i should cut myself some slack. but i also know that some moves in life just require big commitments and real action.

it's just damned hard so i'd appreciate any and all positive support. thanks, you're fabulous.

soon to return to regular programming, i promise. but this is so very important to me as i continally strive to live a more frugal, pared-down life. i already love how my mindshift has firmly settled on being a conserver, and NOT a consumer!

love and light,



  1. Here's what I've reasoned. I am healthy and eat a very healthy diet. You are healthy and eat a very healthy diet too. Choose organic when you can, but try to be gentle on yourself and remember that our bodies are bombarded with toxins every day - toxins that our bodies are equipped to handle well. I tend to believe that as we continue to put whole foods, including many fruits and nutrient-dense vegetables into our bodies, these things will keep us strong in spite of herbicides/pesticides. Do you WANT to have to choose this food? Of course not, but 1) I am thankful to have an abundance of healthy choices nearby to where I live. Some poor areas of our country have only convenience stores in which to shop! They don't even HAVE choices. 2) I have to feed my family and continue to enable us to pay our bills, so we take cuts in our food budget from time to time. It's the largest bill we've got - and really, the most flexible.

    Rice and beans are wonderful. Beans can make so many things - a variety of hummus is always available, soups, chilis, veggie loaves, burgers, burritos, etc. Round it out with whole grains and fruit and veggies and you're set. Make your own bread if you like, but I've also purchased MANY whole grain loaves at the day-old bread stores. I fill up our small, upright freezer chest with bread! When they are $1 a loaf and I can also choose bagels, English muffins, and buns, I leave my foodie at home and buy a bunch of bread. Especially last year when the price of wheat reallllly went up and it became more expensive to even make a simple loaf at home. Is it as good as homemade or artisan? Of course not. But I don't drive a BMW or Lexxus either. I still have the homemade from time to time, but our staples are from the bargain shop... and really, no one is the wiser.

    I can only judge our choices based on the state of our health and it is generally excellent. So, I think that for a time you can certainly make non-organic choices with the idea that someday you will be able to choose more of that again. Do what you can. There's always going to be something better. But not everyone can have the best all the time. Instead, we make the best with what we do and can have and practice gratitude in our hearts. This, too, keeps us whole and healthy. :)

    God bless,

  2. You know, I think the first half of my message got deleted. Ugh. It was LONG. In it, I mentioned our Virgin Mobile phone plan. I can't take the time to type it all up again, but if you check out their website, you might be able to save $30 a month with their Beyond Talk plan, which is what we use.

  3. Karen,
    I hear you, sooooo freaking much. I am in the same boat in so many ways, and it's so frustrating. But you are working SO hard. And you are right, and I know you know this, but it IS all about taking one day at a time. You are working SO hard - and yes, I do agree that you deserve some treats for yourself!!! But maybe you could reward yourself with free things, somehow? I'd have to think on it more, and believe me I SO understand spending $$ on a lunch her or there because you just don't have the energy to make it yourself all the time!!! But you are smart even about that - can you imagine where you'd be right now if you had been spending $$ at the mall and on frivolous things these past few years?!? So - remember to remind yourself of where you ARE vs. where you COULD be. So important.

    Besides, I love love love the values you can instill into your students because they are truly ingrained in you. <3

    One more thing: I made this recipe last night, and it was YUMMY. Bought all the ingredients at the local grocery store, and while I know canned beans aren't as good as fresh and all that, they DO cost like 79 cents. And you get 4 burgers out of it, so you can make some ahead of time & freeze 'em!

    A lot of the initial expense on ingredients would also be a one-time-only deal, because most of the stuff you have plenty left over - spices, bread crumbs, etc. Not sure what you'd want to substitute for the egg to make it vegan, but I'm sure you've got some good knowledge of doing that by now. :)

    Okay! I'm done for now, promise. :) I hope you're doing well & I can't wait to see you!!!!

    I feel like I had much more to say, but mostly, I'm proud of you (like on your behalf...not like I was pivotal or influential, haha) and I think you ought to be proud of you, too. You'll get there. I know SO many people who I don't even understand how they bought a house - you'll be fine when the time comes.

    love you. xo

  4. oops i meant conserver not consumer! hee hee.

    thank you so much, nicole and ari for your thoughtful and detailed responses. i really needed them. ari you'd be proud, just today i spent $2.28 on a coffee with soy milk between the end of school and taking my once-weekly babysitting charge to piano (hate the midday slump!). nicole, do you have a veggie loaf recipe for me? that sounds intriguing. it's good to know i'm not the "only" one out there going through these things. i mean i know i'm not but it's something about the human tendency toward self-perfection (thanks dr. haines, my montessori trainer) that makes us think the other way. i'm better today. realizing that i always make it out of each month alive regardless of pinching those last pennies tight, and that if my situation improves even just a tiny bit every 30 days i'm getting somewhere. a journey of a thousand miles ... yeah. and i've taken way more than one step. i also try to keep perspective on others in the world who have way less than i do. i have clothing, food, running CLEAN water, heat, and electricity. and shelter. more than MOST people in the world are privy to, sadly. i try and remember these things before i make most purchases. it's not a chore to do it. get back to me on "free" treats, ari. i like the idea. i know how to spend time freely, such as hiking or knitting (though yarn is not cheap lol, thank god for a stash!). so ... expand on that for me, if you will. again, much love to you two. thanks so very much!

  5. no, i meant consumer not conserver! gah. i'll change that right now. oy.

  6. Karen, I'm right there with you! Trying to figure out how I never have any money left over no matter what I do. We've been getting better at paying off debts but hardly ever have a cent in savings. That is not how I want to live, I need help too. Thanks for sharing!