Archive | December, 2009

Becoming Frugal

29 Dec

As some of you may know, I currently reside in a 7×7 bedroom with no heat and no space for my things. Most of my clothes, books, movies, and other possessions are in the attic, which I currently cannot access because my tiny dresser is blocking the door. Its cramped, and cold, and generally unpleasant. Solution? Move back out of my parent’s house, this time for good. The problem: I have no money to do this.

Solution to that problem: Become super frugal and save all my pennies.

This is difficult for me because I’m used to a lifestyle of spending my money on small things whenever I want them. A latte here, a pair of shoes there.

This is what I need to work on the most. So, I’m on a wardrobe ban* inspired by Fabulously Broke (Fabulously “Broke” In The City). No more outfits. No more pairs of shoes. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. No more Starbucks before work. This is probably going to be the two most difficult things, because I work in clothing retail and get a kickin’ discount, and I pass a Starbucks in the mall every time I go to work. Sometimes in the early AM, I think to myself, “Sure, I could make a cup and take it with me, but wouldn’t a latte (or tea, or frapp, etc) be so much more delicious? I deserve a treat.” Which seems to make sense until I realized I spend upwards of $7 a day there. Which is not going to help me get an apartment. My other weakness is thrift/resale stores. I seem to have a knack for finding great finds, but do I really NEED that extra sweater? Not really.

*My exception to the ban: I get the bank job I’m hoping for. I’ll need clothes to wear to work. My limitation: thrift/resales only.

I’m realizing I spend way too much money on food as well. A lunch at Noodles & Company, Chinese food, buying food in the food court. I realize that once in a while is okay, but its getting out of hand. My resolution is to start bringing my own (healthier!) lunches to work instead of relying on the (nasty, greasy) food court at the mall. My mom found a pre-packaged meal at the local discount supermarket that’s really yummy. Its by Healthy Choice, the Fresh Steamers? You make the pasta and add the sauce and mix it up. Small portion, and really good. Not to mention it’s only around a dollar per meal, and my mom is willing to buy a few for me to just have on hand for those rare days when I get a lunch at work.

Also, last but definitely not least, I need to stop carrying my debit card with me. I have a checkbook. I might keep a small amount of cash ($10 or less) for emergencies (and lattes? NO.), but I really need to stop keeping my card on me. I have this terrible habit of overdrawing my bank account, and spending 2 or 3 weeks of pay just getting out of the hole. Because I don’t really keep my checkbook register like I should. Because I never write checks. I know that I’m much less inclined to buy something if I have to write out a check, wait for it to clear, keep my register going. I know that I can much more easily keep track of my money if I’m not spending it faster than it comes in. I can just keep my card at home, use it for online purchases (which I almost never make) and on the rare occasion that I need to stop at an ATM I can always swing by, pick up my card, and drop it back off at home.

My mantra is going to be “I don’t need this (item), I need my apartment” and “You know what will taste better than this (food/drink)? Having this in my future apartment.”

I’m also going to make myself a list of all those things that seem irresistable and see if I’m still obsessing over that item in a week. If I am, I’ll put it on the list of things to ask for for my birthday. If I’m not, that’s all well and good because I don’t have to spend the money.

And so, dear reader, wish me luck in my endeavor. Perhaps in a few short months I’ll be able to save up enough to be blogging from my new apartment.

Designs by Megpie

26 Dec

I’ve been contemplating a slight change in life plans.

Lately I’ve been really looking long and hard at what I want to do with my life. I have two choices. A) Veterinarian and B) Anthropologist. Both of these options will require several years of schooling and additional experiences. So what do I do to make a living in between? I mean, I can’t stay at my parent’s house forever.

So I’ve been thinking, what am I good at, that I like doing? Answer: Design. I’ve always been interested in interior design, and quite frankly, I’m good at it. My plan was originally going to be to achieve a degree and do it for a living.

So why not? It’s a 2 year degree, if done full-time. Why can’t I do it part-time, or even full-time over summers, get the degree, and start doing designs as a hobby? I have a few connections in the design world, my aunt is opening her own business and offered to let me “intern” to gain some experience. And once a person finds good clients, you can make a fair amount of money.

I’m very interested in pursuing this as an option. Sure, it’s two years but it can go more quickly if I take the courses over summer break. And in the mean time, I’ll work with  my aunt and build some experience and some networking and see where it takes me.

And then I can enter into my lifelong dream career of flipping houses on the side.

I think this is a good idea, do you?

Holiday Wrap-Up

22 Dec

Get it, wrap-up? Like presents? Oh, I slay myself.

Well, Christmas is just around the corner, in three days to be exact. You know what this means? It’s almost over! Yes! Finally!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with my mom’s family and Christmas Day with Boyfriend’s family, but I’m also looking forward to not freaking out about holiday details.

Like presents.

After the panic, frustration, and wrecking ball to my finances, this will be the last year I buy gifts. Next year, I will be either making holiday food or holiday gifts, but no more stores. The only two forseeable exceptions are 1) I win the lottery and 2) I find someone a perfect gift an a resale/thrift store at a fraction of the cost.

It helps that I’ll be absent from Boyfriend’s large extended family gathering (taking place the day after Christmas), so I’m guessing I won’t be involved in next year’s gift exchange (we pick names). That would be nice mostly because that end of the family is far more well off than myself. Minimum spent is expected to be around $50. And like I said, unless I win the lottery, that ain’t happening.

I actually found some really good DIY gift ideas here at the Ultimate Money Blog and here at Gal’s Guide.

Also, much to my dismay, we’ll probably do our (now) traditional photo shoot at Sears. I like to give these pictures to extended family, our parents, and grandmothers.

And I’m going to try very, very, very hard to finish all of my holiday errands/wrapping/card-signing/baking BEFORE December 22nd. As for this year, I still have to make out the cards from Boyfriend and I, and wrap Little Brother’s gift as well as wait for Boyfriend’s gift to come through the mail so I can wrap that.

Earlier in the season I told my mom that I didn’t even care if we had a tree this year or not. She was surprised because last year I put up a stink. But I was stressed, and so over stimulated by the Christmas “spirit” that I just didn’t want to decorate it. Now…now that it’s almost over I wish we had a tree after all.

And so, dear reader, I leave you as I hold a stack of envelopes and photographs, buried to my eyeballs in holiday cheer. Whatever you celebrate, I hope it’s merry.

The Perfect Apartment

19 Dec

The time has come, this Megpie said, to talk of many things.

Like how I just found the perfect studio apartment to live in. And how I can’t afford it. And how it’s in the perfect location. And how I don’t have a penny. And how light and airy it is, for a studio. And how I really have no money. And how it’s very Carrie Bradshaw. And how I seriously can’t afford $595 a month.

Oh, my life.

But seriously, check this apartment out. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I’ve already decorated it in my mind. Did I mention it’s perfect? http://eastsidestudio.shutterfly.com/

This is going to put a damper on my day, however. I’ve fallen so deeply in love with this apartment that I’m afraid that when I actually do start apartment shopping, none will be as absolutely perfect as this one. I’ve already worked out in my mind how I’d ask the landlord to take the cable/internet out of the rent since I don’t have a TV and I get the internet on my phone. And I could have a cat!

Oh, my life.

In slightly more optimistic news, I have an acquaintance that’s good friends with my best friend that works at a bank. I asked him to put in a good word for me and he agreed, and he thinks I’ll be getting a call later this week! I’m really excited, because I know that if I get an interview I’ll most likely get the job. I’m not trying to sound cocky but I’m excellent at interviews.

Which means that I need to get my blazer tailored. Nobody respects someone that comes in wearing a suit that doesn’t fit properly in the arms. It just looks sloppy.

Which will cost money. Money that I don’t have.

Maybe I should just sell my plasma. Or eggs. Or drugs.

Oh, my life.

And so, dear reader, I implore you. Keep your fingers crossed for me to get this job. Also, keep your fingers crossed that I can somehow manage to snag this apartment as well.

Christmas Spirit

15 Dec

I guess I’m just not feeling “in the spirit” this year. I don’t even care if my mom puts up a tree. I don’t see a point to it.

This year, there is a very real possibility that I will not get to spend any time with my family. Why? I have a job.

Let me explain.

I work in retail, and retail obviously doesn’t care that you have family to be with on Christmas Eve. Now, I’m not 100% certain what my hours will look like, but I can reasonably surmise that I’ll be working. Christmas day, I have off. However, since The Boyfriend’s uncle will be in preventative radiation treatments, the family is getting together the day AFTER Christmas. A day that I’ll be working. My stepdad’s side of the family is gathering in Chicago this year, the Saturday after Christmas. Guess what? I’ll be working.

So forgive me if I’m a little unenthusiastic about your Christmas/Holiday plans. I don’t get to have any this year because I’ll be busy serving customers that will no doubt complain about everything. (Christmas Eve is notorious for bad customers. No pleasing anyone).

If I’m working in retail this time next year, someone, please shoot me.

How I Feel About

12 Dec

It has recently come to my attention that I’ve got some very strong feelings about certain things. Some of these things are not super meaningful (politics) but I feel strongly about them none the less. And so, for your reading pleasure, a list.

  • Sweatpants/shirts in public – never ever is this okay. Unless you’re at the gym.
  • Slippers outside – only marginally okay of you’re getting the mail or paper in the morning. Otherwise this is unacceptable.
  • Wal-Mart – evil, yet realistically I can’t afford to shop anywhere else. Buying clothes from here is never acceptable, unless it is an item that cannot be identified as coming from Wal-Mart (basics, like underwear)
  • Converse – only okay if you’re 14. Once you’re in college, ditch the high-tops. They make feet look huge and are very uncomfortable anyways. Also fake Converse are NEVER acceptable.
  • Pajamas – never in public. Ever. At least put on a pair of jeans or something. And don’t wear slippers.
  • Handwriting – I respect people more if they have good handwriting. All of my close friends have good handwriting. I take people less seriously if they don’t have good penmanship.
  • Spelling and Grammar – I also do not take people seriously if I can’t make out what they’ve written for poor grammar. It also drives me nuts when I find a typo in a book.
  • Computers – Mac over PC any day, unless that PC is running Linux or something. Windows always breaks and is a waste of my time. If you use a PC over a Mac we probably won’t be friends. (Only exception: We were friends before I formed this opinion).

There’s a lot more, but most are really only relevant in context.

And so, dear reader, I ask you: What behaviors do you feel strongly about? Does it ruin your chances at friendship or love? What’s your dealbreaker?

Alternate Reality

6 Dec

I would like to share with you, my dear readers, a story about my grandparents.

My grandmother and grandfather became engaged in 1955. My grandfather was a US Marine, and was serving overseas. He saw my grandmother for about 2 weeks during the year, while he was on leave. Because of this, my grandparents were engaged for five years. Being the kind of man he was, he insisted that my grandmother continue to date other men while they were engaged, because he didn’t want her to miss out on anything. She agreed, but refused to take off her ring. I thought this was a charming story about my grandparents, and really gave me a little bit more insight into who my grandfather was (he died when my mom was 10). Then I also gleaned this little bit of information.

My grandmother dated Mr. Wrigley. Now, Wrigley being one of those names that sounds super common, I didn’t think much of it. Until I looked into my kitchen, where The Boyfriend and I had hung display pieces for gum (Winterfresh, Doublemint, Big Red, and Juicy Fruit). And then I noticed that those happened to be Wrigley’s gum advertisements.

My grandmother dated the heir to the Wrigley gum company. She says he had no personality and was rather boring.

I was stunned. Now, I’ve seen pictures of her when she was my age. She was absolutely GORGEOUS. (As an aside, thank you grandma for your genetics. I have her figure, weight distribution, and facial structure, minus my nose. That’s my father’s.)

Then I got to thinking. What if Grandma had decided that Mr. Wrigley was really the man of her dreams, and married him instead. I could be an heiress right now. Well, not ME per se, but a version of me. Probably with better genetics. But that’s besides the point.

I would have grown up with more access to things like private education, and extracurricular activities. I would have grown up with a completely different mindset. A different socio-economic standing. I would probably be attending Harvard or Yale right now, possibly UCLA or UC-Berkeley. I wouldn’t know what its like to feel my parent’s stress around the first of the month. I would have been more socially groomed.

In short, I’m feeling that if my grandmother had decided money was more important than love, my life would be far better. Ok, if not better than at least easier.

And so, dear reader, I leave you to ponder this: What in your family closet could have changed your life so drastically, that you would belong to a different world entirely?