Thursday, February 12, 2009

I've been toying with the contents of this post for a while, and I thought now was as good a time as any. We all take measures and steps in our personal lives to save/conserve money, and in the last couple of months, I have heard many, many different habits of my friends, coworkers and roommates. Some are similar to things I do, while other are things I'd never do. 

However, I would like to know what you think! In no particular order, here are some of the things that I do/others do/things I've thought of doing. The things that I've done are in bold, the other things listed are things people have mentionned doing or have done.

  • Downloading movies (torrenting - not paying)
  • Downloading music (limewire or equivalent - not paying)
  • Take extra packages of sauce/ketchup/salt, etc from fast food outlets to use at home
  • Taking extra packaged/disposable utensils from fast food outlets
  • Stealing metal cutlery from restaurants
  • Taking pint glasses from pubs
  • Keeping the free mini wine bottles/cola cans from airplanes to drink at home
  • Looping past people on the street handing free things out to stock up
  • Taking extra pens/pencils/stationary from the office to use at home
  • Using the office printer/fax/scanner at the office for personal use
  • Taking bathroom supplies from restaurants/fast food outlets/the office for home use (toilet paper, soap, etc)
  • Taking all the toiletries provided in a hotel bathroom for use at home
  • Buying things 'for donation' and not paying/paying very little (think votive candles at churches, poppies for Rememberance Day)
  • Not correcting a cashier/salesperson when they forget to ring in an item/ring it in at a lower price
  • Switching price tags on items to avoid paying the full price
  • Using a student card to get a discount when you are no longer a student
  • Taking extra ziplock bags from the airport booth (for your carry-on liquids) to use at home
  • Paying for once movie and skipping from theatre to theatre watching movies all day on one ticket.
  • Working 'under-the-table' for cash.
  • Keeping a close watch on hours earned to cut losses on your paycheques because of forgotten hours
  • Lying to your supervisors about extra hours worked to make extra cash (lying about overtime, etc)
  • Stealing sattelite T.V.
  • Hacking (or plain ol' accessing) a neighbors unsecured wireless to do your internettin'.
  • Dumpster diving for used items.
  • Hitting the front of the local thrift stores before the store opens to loot through the donations people have left overnight (that the store hasn't claimed yet).
  • Using 'free trial software' for the period specified (let's say 30 days), then uninstalling it and reinstalling it, or hacking it to work permanently. 
  • Shaking a vending machine until a candy bar falls free, for free.
  • Buying an item in a vending maching from the same slot as a stuck item, so you get 2 for 1.
Well, those are all the ones I can think of for now. What would you like to add? You can plainly see the things that I've done - what do you think? Would you/Have you done the same? Do you disaprove of some of these habits, or do you know someone who behaves in a way you disaprove of to save money? Let me know!

Hurt by The Netherlands...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

...My bank account was, that is.

I won't lie, The Netherlands wasn't pretty on my budget. This was due to several things: The exchange rate was horrible, transportation between cities was pricy, and I was on vacation. Not that I threw away all concept of budgetting while on vacation, but at the same time, we did splurge a bit on eating out. The first night we went to an awesome (AWESOME!) greek restaurant where a huge, amazing meal costs me €20. Then we went out for the BEST sushi I've had in months in Rotterdam, where the total bill for the three of us was €87. And finally, we went out for some old-school Dutch pancakes where I believe my meal was €14. I don't mind that these meals were more expensive, because I haven't eaten out in a long time. I don't really enjoy eating in restaurants by myself, and therefore don't do it.

I'm still thinking about that sushi thought. Omg it was so good. I ate so much unagi I probably dreamt about it all night. MMmmmmm. I really need to find an asian grocery store in London, as sushi is a lot cheaper (and reasonably simple) to make, as long as you can find the correct ingredients. Hmmm.

Anyways, so here's the damage:

Now, keep two things in mind: My roommates owe me about £50 in bills - as I overpaid their share of bills, plus, I haven't yet paid rent. So, when you add it all up, I've got about £15 to last me 21 days. Ooouch.

I've got enough money on my Oyster card to last me though the month, no problem, so I don't have to worry about Transportation. At the same time, I don't have enough food to last me through the month, as I used up all my fresh stuff before I left.

Here's what I've got in my pantry/freezer/fridge:

  • Cereal
  • Peanut Butter
  • Ragu
  • 1 bag uncle ben's rice
  • 2 boxes of Kraft Dinner
  • 1 can minestrone soup
  • 2 bags spaghetti
  • 1 bag butterfly pasta
  • 12 frozen meatballs
  • 1 frozen small chicken
  • 2 frozen fish patties (left by old roommates, unsure of quality/state?)
  • ice cream

Out of the spaghetti I can get 3 meals. From the roast chicken, if I get some vegetables I can get 2-4 meals. Kraft dinner will last me 2-4 meals. So, I'll be able to last for a while, but I don't have any breakfast/lunch meals. So, I am going to go out grocery shopping today, and I have the following on my list:

  • Ground beef
  • Green beans
  • Onions
  • Yams
  • Carrots
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Milk
  • Bread

Hopefully this combination of food will keep me going for at least two weeks. I've been lucky enough to pick up 5 days of working starting Friday, which will net me a couple hundred quid, although I won't see that until the end of March.

Siiiigh. Not the best start to February, but this was definitely a wake-up in how much a short 'mini-break' can cost me. I'm going to have to be very careful when I'm hosting my onslaught of guests starting April.