So as you may recall… I’m still on Operation Spend Less Money. And one of my goals on my Fall 2012 To Do List was Stick to the Budget (particularly… NO SHOPPING). I LOVE to shop, so this has been pretty tough on me. Luckily, super busy days at work have left me little time to click over my danger-zones of internet shopping (Idle hands are the devil’s playthings after all).
I’m not going to say I’ve bought NOTHING (I got a sick deal on black riding boots that I’ve been wanting for a solid year)… but I’ve been really good!! Yesterday… was… torture. Black Friday has no draw for me. I find shopping enjoyable and relaxing, so I don’t personally like the idea of standing in long lines, fighting huge crowds, and potentially fighting other people (did everyone else see this video? Never have I ever wanted underwear that badly). No judgment though… I know lots of people who love Black Friday. More power to you!! I bet you have a sweet new TV at home right now. Mike bought us a new $8 toaster at Walmart though, so don’t count us out just yet.
Black Friday was easy to avoid because I just didn’t go out shopping. Cyber Monday though… whole different story. I was hit with a tidal wave of emails advertising big sales, free shipping (am I the only one who gets completely bamboozled by the offer of free shipping?), BOGO, and more.
My inner thrift shopper was crying out… LOOK HOW MUCH MONEY YOU COULD SAVE!!! But then my non-crazy side had to chime in and say “You could save even more by not buying more crap you don’t need. Leave your credit card in your wallet!”
However, I made one singular Cyber Monday purchase. I bought new running shoes. I have been debating purchasing new sneakers for a couple months now (Remember this post? Yeah never actually bought anything) and I’m way overdue for a new pair. My Asics are pretty done and my Nike’s are on their way too. I was starting to feel some discomfort in my knees and feet, which is never good. It was time to bite the bullet and buy new sneakers. The perfect dilemma for a day boasting major internet shopping deals. I’ll admit, I would LOVE to get a pair of the Mizuno Wave Rider 16s. The blog world is buzzing about these shoes. But right now they’re $103.95 on RW. With the holidays coming up, I need to watch my pennies. I do have a birthday coming in January though… hmmmm….
I digress…on the way to me right now – a brand spanking new pair of Saucony Cortanas
I’ve got purchasing running shoes down to somewhat of a science. One of my first “budgeting” posts on POTR was about how to get good bargain running shoes. I followed my own advice and went right over to Running Warehouse. Always free shipping (totally bamboozled) and these bad boys are on liquidation sale (Down to $78.66 from $145!!). This shoe had really everything I was looking for in a marathon trainer: low heel drop (4 mm), light-ish weight (9.9 oz), and plenty of cushion for long runs. I’ll do a full review once they come in 🙂
Also… how sweet are these colors? I’m not completely immune to that. Sorry I’m not sorry.
I’ve been trying really hard to keep within my “no more than three meals out” per week stipulation in Operation Spend Less Money, knowing full well it was probably going to be the hardest one. I like to cook and usually bring my lunch to work, but sometimes I get busy or it’s just easier to go out. And on the weekend, there are few things I love more than going out to brunch. After running on Saturday or after a lazy Sunday morning, brunch is THE BEST. So this weekend, I set out to make a delicious brunch at home. For me brunch does not mean pancakes or waffles or anything sweet. It means eggs. I love eggs and brunch feels incomplete without them. Plus, I spend all week eating yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast at my desk, so come the weekend I’m looking for delicious, savory eggs. While cooking up brunch, I brewed up a batch of my favorite “coffeehouse coffee” with cinnamon and ginger. To give it a mocha-ish feel, I added 1% chocolate milk to my coffee… which was the bomb.
While sipping on my coffee, I dug through my refrigerator and cabinets to pull together the ingredients for a delicious Mexican inspired breakfast quesadilla. Ingredients included: eggs, tortilla, sliced cheese, diced tomatoes, corn, and refried black beans.
In the pan I fried up two eggs and melted the cheese. I always leave my eggs slightly on the running side, because that is how I like them 🙂
When it all came together, my only regret is that I had a bigger tortilla because this baby got MESSY! But it was truly and completely delicious.
Cutting this thing in half was no small task let me tell you. I ended up serving it with a sliced half a banana and apple, which complemented it perfectly. I wish I had some potatoes, peppers, and onions but perhaps next time. I’ll admit, it’s not exactly the same as going out to brunch, but it was a really good alternative. I can’t say I’ll never go out to brunch again… but at least now I think I can make it more of a once in a while thing 🙂
I wanted really badly to have some clever snappy title for this blog post… but maybe it will come to me over the course of writing this post. And then I can come back and edit this paragraph? Writing is such a process 🙂
So last night, I did something totally awesome… I purchased one week’s worth of groceries for $50 (cue the fireworks!!!) After taking a pretty fantastic run around the mall (which, if your not from DC, is the stretch of lawn from the U.S. Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial – yeah it’s pretty sweet here, I won’t lie to you) I met up with two friends who have been staying with me this week while they take in the sights of the city. After a quick drink, I was able to convince the girls to join me on a quick grocery trip to Harris Teeter.
I had very little food (certainly nothing fresh) in my house after my weekend trip to Charlottesville, and I’ve really been trying to keep up with my “no more than 3 meals out per week” rule (I only have one left… yikes). I had to grocery shop. In the car on the way back from Cville on Monday, I made a painfully extensive meal plan and grocery list. Normally, I only plan dinners and then wing the rest of it, but I knew that if I was going to get to that magical $50 mark, I needed to be much more thorough. Armed with my list, I went to Harris Teeter, and for the first time ever, was able to purchase an entire week of groceries (that is planning for every meal mind you!) for $50. What what…. Operation Spend Less Money, I’m going to own you!
I thought I would put together a list of things that I kept in mind last night while shopping that I found helpful / made me successful. Tips for grocery shopping for (much) less:
- Rethink the produce section. This kind of makes me a little bit sad because, if I had my druthers, I would eat nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables all day. However, if I truly let loose, I could easily spend over $50 just in the produce section. I tried to approach the produce section differently so I could still eat healthy, nutritious foods, but keep it under budget. For fruit, I stuck to just a big bunch of bananas (at 69 cents per pound) and a bag of golden delicious apples ($3.99 for approximately 12 small apples). I try to eat two servings of fruit per day, so this should be fine to get me through the week. For fresh veggies, I stuck to only things I was going to eat raw. Anything I planned on cooking, I figured I could get frozen (read more below). I ended up buying two small bags of HT brand baby carrots and a bunch of celery.
- Keep proteins simple. I’m not a vegetarian and I think the term “flexetarian” is dumb (sorry I’m not sorry for that). However, non-meat protein sources can be much cheaper options so I do try to make those the majority of my meals. Some inexpensive protein options I always keep on hand include canned beans (HT has generic cans of black beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, all kinds of beans for 77 cents each), fat free refried beans (89 centers per can, I love these spread on toast in the morning or mixed in with a salad), canned tuna fish, and eggs. I do eat tofu but not every week (I try not to overdo it on soy products)
- Embrace generics. Almost everything I bought last night was generic, and that’s pretty much always true. They’re EXACTLY the same at a fraction of the price, I don’t really get not buying them. Some of my favorites include HT brand unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I ❤ unsweetened vanilla almond breeze from Blue Diamond, but the HT version is like $1.50 cheaper), lowfat chocolate milk (for post-run but also because it is delicious), packaged cheese, and spicy brown mustard.
- Shop the sales. I love greek yogurt and eat it pretty much every day (either as a snack, breakfast, or mixed up in overnight oats) but it can really add up on your grocery bill. My favorite favorite FAVORITE brand is Dannon Oikos(it is heaven in a cup), but I try to remain slightly flexible on brands and buy what is on sale. Luckily, Dannon is on sale a lot at HT (last night VIC card special was 10 for $10… you best believe I totally stocked up).Source
- Don’t forget frozen veggies. Like I mentioned above, I wish I could go nuts and buy tons and tons and tons of fresh produce, but right now that’s just not a reality. Instead of making excuses and just eating macaroni and cheese, I’m trying to make it work. I stock up weekly on HT brand frozen veggies including broccoli florets, spinach, collard greens, chopped onions, snow peas, and many others. They’re usually about $1.50 for a bag. If I have slightly more to spend (more like $2 – $4 per bag) I love Pictsweet brand. They’re SUPER fresh for frozen vegetables (the yellow / green beans are my favorite), and I love the company. Hoping to put a post together about ways to cook / prepare frozen veggies soon 🙂
You would think that writing a blog where the main focus was originally intended to be about living on a tight budget (I may have gotten away from that a little bit whoopsies) would make me spend less money. But admittedly in the last six months or so I haven’t been as tight with my wallet as I need to be. I haven’t been extending over my budget / running into debt or anything… but I also haven’t been saving as much as I would like. Additionally, there are a couple exciting things in my works in my personal life that will increase the importance of sticking to my budget. Also, it is worth mentioning that I think financial health is an important aspect of overall health! Learning to live on a budget and be responsible for finances is important!! (Omg I am SUCH a loser for saying that on my blog… please keep reading!)
I think it’s time for … drum roll please… OPERATION: SPEND LESS MONEY
After reviewing my budget over the last several months, identifying some trends in my spending, and evaluating certain expenses I have come up with this list:
- Spend more time at the things I already pay for. Namely: my gym and my yoga studio. Basically I need to get more value out of things I choose to pay for.
- Spend more time doing things that are FREE. I need do more research to find free events happening in and around DC or come up with fun free things to do with Mike or friends.
- Read Books that are free. I LOVE books and I have a HUGE bookcase in my apartment that is positively loaded up with books. Admittedly though, I haven’t read all of them. I am not letting myself buy any new books until I have read every book on that bookcase. The only exception will be the classics (which are almost all available FO FREE for my Kindle. I downloaded Anna Karenina after my trip to Russia, might be time to actually read it).
- Lose the booze. Honestly, I love socializing but drinking makes me sick and bloated. Sometimes I’m really in the mood for a glass of wine or a great beer, so I’m going to try and stick to only one drink when I’m out (and only if I’m really in the mood).
- Experiment more with DIYs. This goes for home improvement, gifts, and even beauty care.
- Stop buying new clothes and shoes. Just stop. I seriously don’t need them. I don’t need anything. I have more clothes / shoes than will ever be necessary.
- Stop eating out all the time. This is such a nasty habit! I just need to make a commitment that I will eat 21 meals per week, and only 3 of them are allowed to be “out”. That includes lunches during the work week and brunch on the weekends… not just dinner! Mike and I eat out basically every time I go over to his house, but last night he actually cooked for us! It was pretty awesome.
- Spend less at the grocery store. I live in a city and food is really expensive here (I see some people’s grocery lists on blogs and then they say then spend $50 a week on groceries, I literally like choke when I see that. I am LUCKY if I can keep it under $75 a week right now). Right now I am grocery shopping at Harris Teeter because it is so convenient but I think even that is too expensive. I’m planning a whole post on overhauling my grocery shopping so you have that to look forward to 🙂
Look out for recurring posts happening here on POTR on how I will try to live a still fabulous and fit life on a spartan budget 🙂
And for no reason in particular… here is a picture of me stuffing a turkey. (I felt like the post needed a little something extra)