There have been three areas of financial improvement that have helped me so far with this spending diet:
1. Minor tweaks to the social life
We planned a ladies night Saturday night.
I allowed myself $20 and stuck to it perfectly, with specific strategy. I made sure I was going to either split a cab ($5 each way) or take the subway. I drank before we went out and avoided buying drinks out by 1) sticking to water 2) keeping a flask in my purse (hush you…I know it’s wrong…but so is charging $64 for a pitcher of margaritas – not an exaggeration at all!). I did splurge on the best taco salad ever at San Loco after the bars, but it’s normally out of the way. It was $9.95 so I stuck to my $20 limit regardless.
Additionally, instead of joining Megan in ordering take-out Friday night, I made my own meal with food I had around the house. I didn’t miss out on anything, had an equally yummy meal and didn’t spend money (except I did buy a cheap bottle of wine…whatevs).
2. Grocery Shopping
I grocery shopped with $20 and it has me covered for the whole week, plus some. How I did it:
|Our grocery store has a website where you can make a shopping list of weekly sales! Took a quick Google search to discover that helpful tool!|
|My shopping list with estimated prices.|
- PLAN! Check out weekly ads at the grocery store and plan around what’s on sale, in addition to items you have on hand already. Make a list and price out roughly what you expect each item to be before you get to the store. That way there are no major surprises at checkout. If you guess wrong, you can see it right away as you’re selecting items. I like to over-estimate beforehand so I have a little extra to play with if I want to stock up on an especially good deal.
- Pick three affordable meals that you can make a big batch of. Use one as your breakfasts, one as your lunches and one as your dinners.
- Apples for breakfast, whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce for lunches, taco lettuce wraps for dinner.
- Think outside the box. If 1lb. of ground turkey costs $6 but 1lb. of ground turkey burger patties cost $5, get the patties and mash them up, just like you would with ground turkey. It’s the exact same thing, just a different shape. I needed to buy 2 so that switch saved me 1/10th of my bill already.
3. Take advantage of FREE!
My new blogger friend Liz recently told me, “If I were to be broke in any city, I would want it to be New York”. I think I looked at her like she was crazy. With the high rent, outrageous prices for restaurants, bars, groceries etc, it is easy to go broke here. But she was still right. The number of free opportunities is astronomical in this city.
I recently discovered a website called MyFreeConcertNYC, where there are constant free events. I started following them on Twitter and participated in one of their contests to win free tickets to a Snow Patrol concert. I found out I won and on Monday night Liz and I enjoyed a wonderful show at the Ed Sullivan Theater (where they film Letterman) without spending a dime!
|Lead singer, Gary Lightbody, is simply wonderful, both his vocals and personality.|
|We had a great time! Thanks for joining me Liz!|
Additionally, my friend, Megan M, (yes, it’s very confusing to have 2 friends named Megan) heard about free classes at Yoga to the People and we enjoyed a crowded, sweaty class on Wednesday night.
I have a 3-day weekend coming up and I can’t wait to tell you about all the free things I have planned! I really am very lucky to have so many resources and opportunities in this city, even with my tiny budget. It just takes a little research, an open mind and a little planning.
Ultimately? So far, the spending diet is not always easy but it’s doable. I currently have $25.82 left for the next 7 days. I made a few splurges over the weekend (wine, Papa Johns, taco salad) but I’m confident I will learn to manage those better as well. I have a decent amount of food in my cabinets and a few more free plans over the weekend so I think I’ll be able to make it work. As the weeks go on, I’ll learn how to save a little for bigger purchases (such as Catching Fire! I just finished the Hunger Games last night and I almost spent half my money on the next book!) without being completely depleted.
Since I had a little bit of catching up to do with my bills this last paycheck, I only managed to save $30 so far. However, that’s $30 I would have normally spent. It’s true what they say, every little bit counts. I’m committed to this plan more than ever and I’m excited to see the progress.