In addition to the job front, I've been making over my finances. For a week or so now, I've been writing down every penny I spend every day. I've known for some time that the bulk of my money (after I pay car insurance, credit card bill, cell phone bill, and pitch in for groceries and cable) goes to food, booze, books, and other fun stuff. I generally don't buy clothes (although the pressing need is becoming more apparent every day as underwires pop out of bras, socks sprout holes, and my sweaters become littered with fuzz pills), I don't have an outrageous amount of bills (since I live at home), and my car is completley paid off (not bad for a sexy 3-year-old car). I should have more money in savings (without having to put my entire financial aid difference check in savings). I'm determined to be saving up a nice nest egg to pad the trauma of buying plane tickets for conferences this semester and the potential move to Illinois if I get in. If I don't end up in Illinois I should have a great nest egg suitable for getting a place and buying some furniture and beginning to diversify my money and invest a bit. After all the money recording this week I discovered that if I'd made a few small changes that would NOT have hurt, I could've put $48 in savings. While it doesn't sound like a lot, that adds up over the course of a month. Even moreso over the course of a year!
So, the plan right now is to implement small changes....
- Stop eating out so much. There is no excuse for a $10 salad. If I do eat out, I'd like to eat appetizers more often because that's plenty of food, it's tasty, and it's cheaper than an entree.
- Cancel my Netflix subscription--or at least bump it down to a smaller package. I don't have time to watch many movies at the moment, and we have a year of free Showtime, so I have a huge backlog of movies to watch on my DVR.
- Take my lunch to work. I have office hours scheduled during lunchtime on Monday/Wednesday, anyway, so I might as well eat something decent, cheap, and NOT a huge portion.
- Invest in a bicycle. First off, it's the only kind of exercise I like. Second, I could run around here in town on it (post office, grocery store, my mom's office) and save money on gas, be nice to the environment, and get some exercise at the same time. I want something plain vanilla, maybe used. 12 gears are not necessary.
- Use my cell phone more instead of using a calling card or the expensive land line. I have a basic cell phone package and I still never even come close to using all of my minutes. I have an ungodly amount from all the rollover, so while it may be physically more comfortable to talk on the land line when I know I'm gonna be on the phone for a while, I must resist! The cell is MUCH cheaper in the long run.
- Put my change in savings. I make it a point to hardly ever spend change. Why? Because do you know how fast you can save some cash by not spending change??? I have tons of it...in my car, on my dresser, in a huge mug where I toss it. I bet you I save roughly $80 in change a year. Now I just need to roll it and deposit it.
- If I get an overwhelming urge to buy books, I will only buy from the clearance section. They're all $1 or $2 and I never buy more than 3 or 4 clearance books a month. That, my friends, is cheap. And I have a university library at my disposal, for God's sake. I can interlibrary loan ANYTHING I WANT. Not to mention the 300 unread books sitting right here next to me.
- Buy nicer quality clothing and get it tailored. I am notorious for buying a piece of clothing and never wearing it. Horrible habit. I need to be more careful when choosing clothing (something I've gotten progressively better about in the last few years anyway), and be sure to get it tailored to fit nicely so I don't punk out and leave it in the closet because it "just doesn't fit right." It will cost more at the time, but the purchases should last me MUCH longer. And I have a lovely, affordable tailor that I take my stuff to. She's fantastic.
So, a sampling of the changes going on 'round here. What brought all this on? I have no idea. Call it maturity. Call it a quarter-life crisis. Call it whatever. I came to a few realizations. There are certain things I want out of life, and there are certain advantages to implementing these changes now.
Buy a house sometime in the nearish future (in the next 5 years or so)...preferably something a little older, with a little more character, and fix it up and sell that bitch! A decent profit could go a long way toward paying off my loans before I'm geriatric. And I love home improvements/projects.
Invest. Invest. Invest. I'm incredibly paranoid about not having an money when I retire. I had intended to begin saving and investing when I was 21, but we all know how that goes. I need to make up for some lost time. I might like to retire early even!
Travel. I like to go. But if I'm gonna go, I've gotta get my $$$ a-growin'.
I'm young and single. The bottom line is that I don't have anyone else to worry about. Just me. I don't have to split a living with someone, I don't have to support anyone, etc. It doesn't take a whole lot to support my lifestyle if I do things right. I can still enjoy myself, my surroundings, have nice things, etc. and save money. I love to cook and I'm good at it, so I should always have affordable food sources and plenty of leftovers. I'm not a clothes horse. I don't like having an overabundance of stuff cluttering up my living quarters. If I can get my vices (food, travel, booze, books, miscellaneous entertainment) under control I'll be in business.
Thank you all for the kind words regarding my disillusionment with the PhD. It means ze world to me! I have some blog catching up to do. This week was nuts.