Monday, October 12, 2009

How to blow $99 in a weekend

Step 1: Decide to go see your boyfriend Friday night.
He was working for his parents last week, and you go have dinner with them. Buy gas and chewing gum before heading off on the two hour drive. His parents are kind enough to take you to dinner at a very noisy pub so you barely talk. Two and a half hour later, he goes home and so do you.

Step 2: Have a spending-free Saturday.
Sleep late, make waffles for your roommate, read, and enjoy the day. Over waffles, decide to go see a movie with the roommate the next day.

Step 3: Give the roommate money for gas.
She's the most frequent driver in your group since she has the most fuel efficient and newest car. Get gas and pick up one of your friends on the way to the city a little over an hour away.

Step 4: Have breakfast out.
The waitress is excellent so leave a really nice tip.

Step 5: Go to Target.
Consider buying a $10 shirt that would be perfect for one of the theme days of spirit week, but decide against it because short sleeves aren't practical for fall. Do buy a friend a roll of dental floss. (Long story.)

Step 6: Go to Old Navy.
Find an equally good shirt with long sleeves in the men's department. Pay $15.

Step 7: See a movie.
The Invention of Lying is moderately funny, but $7.50 for a matinée is highway robbery.

Step 8: Work for a while in a Starbucks.

Everyone else feels compelled to get a drink since they're using the space, so go ahead and give into peer pressure and get a tall hot chocolate.

Step 9: Buy unattractive costume jewelry.
Spirit week and peer pressure combine.

Step 10: Have dinner out.
Choose one of the cheapest things on the menu. Do leave a decent tip because it isn't the waiter's fault you're broke.

Step 11: Return home with $1 in your wallet.
Be happy you have plenty of bread, peanut butter, jelly, oatmeal, apples, ravioli, and frozen vegetables to get you through until Friday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I once again resent my budget.

I have $7.91 to last me until Friday afternoon, a need for modeling clay for tomorrow's lab, and a bad case of the I wants. I knew that spending over the weekend meant a leaner week, but I'm feeling very grumbley about not getting to buy a school mascot hoodie now that the weather has turned cold and rainy, to go out to dinner on Thursday, to grab a few more groceries that aren't strictly necessary.

I can do this. I should do this. $100 a week should be plenty to cover groceries, household and personal items, gasoline, and fun if I just prioritize correctly. Self discipline is good. Houses are nice. Being able to send hypothetical future kids to college is important to me. Everything has an opportunity cost. Tell me to snap out of it and just be more careful next week.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Life happens.

I haven't had electricity in my bedroom for about a week now. I think it was last Monday night when I flipped the light switch, heard a pop, and stood in a dark room. (The days of flu blur together a bit.) My clock was dead as well so it obviously wasn't the light bulb. The breaker is conveniently located directly above my bed so I tried flipping it, but it felt floppy and wouldn't stay in position. I tried unplugging my clock to ensure I wasn't overloading the circuit; still nothing.

This would have been a good time to call the landlord, except for the minor difficulty that the only thing I know about him is that his name is Larry. I talked to my roommate, and her old roommate used to have his number, but she lost it some months ago. My roommate does, however, know both his name and where he lives. She was expecting him to come by that weekend to collect October's rent since he always shows up within a couple of days of payday so we decided to just wait and tell him then. It was a bit of an inconvenience, yes, but I can get my work done in the living room and now have an excuse to wear this cool headlamp I bought a year ago and pretend I'm spelunking even as I type this post.

The weekend has come and gone with no sign of the landlord, and I'm a bit less charmed by my electricity-free quarters. It's time to either get serious about fixing the circuitry or buy a kersosene lantern. I'm about ready to take matters into my own hands. After talking to my favorite former apprentice electrician, I now know that the place to start is to replace the breaker and see if that fixes the problem. It sounds simple enough, and it'll probably be safe as long as I cut off power to the house, invest in a circuit tester to be doubly sure, and get my roommate to stand by with a broom handle. The prospect of moving on from fixing our toilet to doing our own electrical repairs is pretty exciting, actually.

There's just one teensy problem. A weekend visit to see that former electrician and his family has left me rather low on funds for the week. I have $8 cash plus $13something on a Wal-Mart card for groceries, gas, and school supplies. I suspect that won't get me a breaker, and I am loath to wait until I collect my Friday afternoon allowance to try to restore power to my room. I think it may be time to break into that $1,000 "life happens fund" sitting in savings. Based on the cost of bills for the past two months, I'll certainly be able to replenish whatever a breaker costs by the end of the month. It doesn't really matter whether I just take the money out of checking instead, but I'm more likely to take it seriously if I treat it as a debt to myself.