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Monthly Archives: January 2013

My car desperately needed an oil change. Honestly, it was actually really overdue for one and I kept putting it off in January because I didn’t want to spend the money on it. Then  Logan told me my car was going to explode (I’m convinced this was an exaggeration), so I decided we would do it as cheaply as possible — meaning Logan could do it himself!

I usually take it to the local Wal-Mart (Does that make me a bad person? Oil changes are literally the only thing I go to Wal-Mart for because they are conveniently still open when I get off work… and also because they’ll balance and rotate my tires fo’ free.) They charge me $31.88 plus tax.

So Logan and I went to buy oil and a filter. Counting the oil tax (that I only learned about while staring at my receipt – I’m learning to look at receipts more on this Spending Freeze), I spent $24.70. I might have been able to save more money on oil, but I’d already made my car wait so long for new oil — I felt like she deserved the good stuff. Also I don’t know anything about oil, so the real reason is Logan picked it. I acted like I approved because I had no idea.

So far, I saved ‘$7.18!

But then we had to drive 20ish miles to  his parents’ house so we’d have the right tools…

And then my car is weird and new and getting the old filter out was a pain…

Somewhere in the middle of it Logan promised he’d never change my oil again…

What should have taken 30 minutes took nearly 2 hours…

And I was kind of wishing we’d let Wal-Mart do it.

But then I wouldn’t have gotten to take this picture, so maybe it was worth it:

IMG_4668 - Copy

After the oil change, we drove to meet my mom to get some things I’d left at her house, and she suggested we meet in McDonald’s parking lot. As soon as we pulled in, Logan said, “I’d love a milkshake, but I won’t do it.” Then when my mom arrived, she said, “I have a coupon for buy one, get one milkshakes, do you want it?” And I thought about the two hour oil change and general pain in the butt my car had been and said yes and treated us to a chocolate shake and an M&M blizzard for $2.18. I’m calling it the “labor fee” on my oil change, and it was delicious.

(Also, while I was that McDonald’s – which is the closest one to work and home – I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been to a McDs. So I looked up the last time I’d spent money there on my handy-dandy on-line banking: August of 2011. Crazy. I probably bought ice-cream then, too. Or tea. I’m a sucker for sweet tea.)

Counting the deliciousness of guilt-purchased ice-cream, I saved $5 on my oil change, half of which was probably spent on gas. For next time I’ll be shopping around to see if I can find a local place that’ll do it cheaper than Wal-Mart, and I won’t buy a Blizzard. Even if it was delicious.

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I never spent much time looking at how much money I’m spending, so today I spent some time reviewing my bank account. I tracked my purchases for all of 2012.

I’m downright embarrassed to tell you what I found out.

First of all, you should know that my income barely puts me over the poverty line, so remember that when you’re checking out these numbers. I always thought I was pretty good at being poor. These numbers say something else.

Last year, I spent $389.10 eating out at my favorite local Mexican restaurant. That’s just one restaurant. I probably bought the owner’s new dj equipment all by myself. (You’re welcome, Santi.)

Worse, I spent $462.62 at my usual I-didn’t-have-time-to-pack-a-lunch fast food joint.  And I always bring my own drink! (Cause, you know, they don’t sell Dr.Pepper.) So that’s not even a combo!

A whopping $258.44 went to our usual pizza place that’s super cheap. This isn’t the only place we get pizza. Just the cheapest place we hit up most often. Lordy.

I spent $234.13 at my usual liquor store. I don’t drink often – seriously. Social drinker at most. The occasional bottle of wine, and I usually have some mid-shelf rum in the freezer that lasts me two months. There may have been two mildly expensive gifts in that total, but still. Not ok.

I really wish I could figure out how much I spent on clothes. I shop several different stores, for one, and anything I paid for in cash isn’t showing up (which I’m trying to not consider, since it’d make all those above totals even more outrageous). Then there’s Target.

Good ole Target. Now, I love that store. I get my Red Card 5% off, and they actually do have lower prices on a lot of foods. But when do I buy food without also wandering over to the clothes section and checking out the clearance racks? Or walking through the shoes? Never. Seriously never. Which is why I spent a total of $2,139.79 at Target this year. Over $500 was the new tv my boyfriend put on my RedCard (and paid me back for immediately – he just wanted the 5% savings). BUT STILL. That is one giant chunk of change.

There have been times when it’s crossed my mind that I’ve been frugal anyway, and this spending fast isn’t going to make that much of a difference to my financial status. Well, I don’t believe that anymore.

needs wants

About two months ago I the blog And then We Saved, documenting the story of how this one crazily dedicated woman payed off a giant chunk of debt by going on what she called a Spending Fast. (You should read about it. Seriously.)

She only allowed herself to spend money on her needs. Rent. Utilities. Cell phone. Food. Etc. Her wants were not allowed. No new clothes. No cute new purses. No eating out. No cute etsy finds.

I knew when I found it that I needed to do it too. But Christmas was coming. And my boyfriend was about to graduate college. So I put it off and told myself I’d start in January.

Then, wouldn’t you know, suddenly January was NEXT WEEK, and I hadn’t really planned anything out. I panicked a little. I read a year’s worth of her blog to make myself feel better, and when she talked about eating all the food in her pantry and gagging on gross canned chili for lunch, I did NOT feel better. I felt like I should go buy a year’s worth of food I love. A year’s worth of Dr.Pepper. Of Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese. Of Honey Nut Cheerios and of Reese’s Cups.

I managed to put my panic aside and sit down to write out my own list of wants and needs.

NEEDS:

  • rent
  • utilities
  • groceries
  • medical expenses (co-pays, etc.)
  • internet
  • netflix (I’m sure I could live without it, but it’s fairly cheap and will keep me from going to the movies.)
  • haircuts (ONLY cheap cuts and as rarely as possible.)

I have a lot of things going for me: I’m on a family plan with my cell phone that my darling mother pays for. (Thanks, Mom!) I don’t have a car payment. All in all, it could be worse.

WANTS:

  • new clothes (I’ll be following the Spending Fast’s idea of Make Do and Mend)
  • eating out
  • gifts
  • books, including blank books (I’m a sucker for a nice journal)
  • craft supplies (this is going to hurt)

I’m sure there are more, but that’s my list for now. I’ll update you when I have giant internal debates over whether something is a want or a need. Like face lotion. I’m torn on that one.

So far it’s been five days, and I’ve managed to pack my lunch everyday and only eat food already in my cabinets/fridge!

Only 360 more days to go…