Saturday, June 14, 2008

Serious overspending.

I lasted until Thursday evening without spending a single penny, and it felt really good to go a full seven days carefully husbanding my resources. Then I bought a pack of gum to chew while working on my agenda for the first day of summer school. The really serious spending didn't hit until Friday and today.

We had a school social Friday after work where they bused us to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Since we ride the buses to and from work each day there was no easy way to escape. Alas, we had to pay our own way, and the people in charge had already ordered for the group so there was no way to look for good deals, have an appetizer as an entree, or split something with a friend. The folks who organized this also couldn't say for sure what it would cost, but they estimated it at around $10 each, not including alcoholic drinks, which had to be purchased by individuals since Teach for America had policies against buying them. The food was tasty, but I somewhat resent being ordered to go out to dinner at my own expense for work.

Since I have a prepaid cell phone, buying phone cards and using a landline is a much cheaper way to call home. I burned through the last of my minutes talking to my dad Friday night and then reloaded my calling card with another 1,000 minutes. That ought to get me through a few more weeks. (Ok, actually maybe not. I miss my family.)

Then tonight I took the shuttle from the dorms to Target. Starting Monday, I'll be teaching the first semester of ninth grade physical science, and there were a lot of supplies I think I'll need that aren't provided by the school. In addition to overhead markers, colored pens for grading, index cards, and a whole slew of other supplies, I ended up using my new job as an excuse to buy toys as well. The resource room here at Institute might well have some good demos for potential and kinetic energy that I could borrow, but the Nerf gun with the visible spring was just too perfect to pass up.

All told, I'm probably out about $125 bucks this week, and that really isn't sustainable. I'd like to rationalize it and argue that it was a one-time thing; there were plenty of of big purchases that should last for a while: the phone card should have enough minutes for at least a couple more weeks unless I get really homesick, I got a five month supply of multi-vitamins, I won't be buying glow sticks and toy cars every week, it'll be quite shocking if my pens all die in the next four weeks, and I'm now stocked up on gum and semi-healthy snacks. Unfortunately, I think "abnormal" spending may become the norm. Next week, it may not be a Target run that gets me, but I'll soon have to pay for July's health insurance and refill a prescription. It's somewhat amazing how much I'm spending when housing, food, and transportation are all provided, and that doesn't bode well for the future.


Fabulously Broke said...

Sad but true - I do that in pharmacies because I need to stock up on contact lens solution or whatever else.. but then I feel sick when I see the bill LOL

Mary Sue said...

Save receipts; all teaching supplies are tax-deductible work expenses. Including the NERF gun, which is AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, do save your receipts. The first $350 (at least for the past few years, it may have expired) is a tax freebie - it comes right off your taxes. After that it is a deductible expense. Try not to let it get that high...though it can be really tempting!
I've used dollar-store dart guns for PE/KE, projectiles, and just a simple lab for practicing graphing relationships: how high does the dart go depending on how much mass is taped onto it?
Dollar stores can be great, also there are usually pretty good back-to-school sales at Staples and Office Depot in August. Look for scientific calculators under $10 and get a couple to lend out to students. If you get a Star Teacher card at Office Depot or a Teacher Rewards card at Staples, you get coupons or an actual gift card based on how much money you spent.
But don't spend too much!

plonkee said...

I've always found that spending money spends itself. When you're paying for all your own food you don't notice the amount that you spend on snack items.

Maybe you should work out a new budget being more realistic about what you're really inclined to spend. Alternatively, you'll have to do things like no phoning home as much, emailing or writing letters instead?