shaking the mystery box.

3 06 2011

sometimes, i apply for so many freebies and shit online, that i completely forget what i’ve applied for. in the last few weeks, i’ve had not one but THREE  mystery boxes show up on my porch with a WTF, and then subsequent OMG upon opening them. i’ve gotten some really kick ass stuff in the last month… and now i’m gonna tell you about it: Read the rest of this entry »





lactose intolerant.

15 03 2011

well, for a few days at least. those crazy cats over at bzzagent sent me free silk soymilk coupons under the condition that i give up milk for 10 days (like it’s some sort of challenge or something). not one to back away from a challenge (especially one that involves me getting free stuff), i decided that i’m not only giving up milk for 10 days, i’m giving  all dairy.

i have sort of a cheese and butter problem to start with, even though my personal ethics would really love for me to be a vegan. i thought this would be a good way for me to test the dairy free waters, without any major commitments or expectations. although i already spent over $100 on dairy free groceries that i am convinced will help me make it through the tough times that i assume to be ahead. what i’ve learned so far: Read the rest of this entry »





suicide blonde: a budgetary conundrum.

13 02 2011

the year after i graduated from college, i was making a lot of bad decisions. i spent my first six months of independence sleeping on a couch and living pretty much entirely off of yoohoo and cheez doodles. and probably some other stuff that i shouldn’t write about because sometimes my mom read my blog. anyway, on one particularly messy evening, getting drunk off of swilly cumberland farms beer (golden anniversary if i recall correctly), my friend megan held up a box of ultra blue, and beckoned to the bathroom.

well, it’s NEVER a good idea to color your hair while drunk, but going platinum blonde while even so much as tipsy can only end in UTTER DISASTER. first and foremost, my hair was splotchy like a leopard. apparently, it’s important to make sure you get total coverage, which is hard to do when you’re half in the bag. also, make sure that you don’t leave the bleach on too long, or your hair will end up a crispy mess than no subsequent corrective hair coloring will ever be able to cover.  i knew i was in trouble when a 4 year old girl looked at me and earnestly asked: “why is part of your hair black and part of your hair yellow?” Read the rest of this entry »





raising the roof.

26 05 2010

i wish i could raise the roof all 1998 style (can a get a woot woot?) about the process of getting a new roof, but it’s been all sorts of suck since day one. we hadn’t even had our condo for a full year when the water damage started. sure, they told us during due diligence that we would need a new roof in the next 2-5 years, but we figured we would have at least one recovery year before the giant assessment of doom descended upon us. but then *BAM*, 1 giant shingle ripping windstorm, and everything falls apart. our beautiful (and stupid expensive) brand new professional paint job reduced to a bubbly saggy mess in 24 short hours.

now not only was my heart broken about the paint job, but with one of the 5 units in our tiny little condo association undergoing foreclosure (meaning that the guy hadn’t paid mortgage or condo fees for 6+ months), i was also wicked pissed. why you ask? well, because when a condo association needs a new roof, and one of the units is in foreclosure… everyone else just has to pick up the slack and pay jerkface’s share of the bill. which isn’t so bad when it’s a $75 heat bill, but when it’s a $15,000 new roof- it becomes significantly more pricey. and thus, i become increasingly more filled with rage.

i suppose we were lucky enough to get that big chunk gifted to us by the boyfriend’s parents (although that too came with it’s own “complications” [ahem, demon dog anyone?]). but that still left us with $1,375 each to come up with by june 1st. the crazy thing is, i actually had it. there was almost $2,300 in my savings account, and for the first time in my life ever (i’d never been able to keep more than about $25 in savings at any given time), my emergency fund was actually ready for the emergency. so why did it feel so bad when i had to write that check? last night as i transferred the cash over to my checking account, and saw my hard earned savings dwindle down to less than $900, i felt a huge sense of hopelessness and loss. i had been doing so well. i had made real progress. i had felt so successful. and here i was again, back down to an almost empty tank.

i automatically have $100 a month put into savings from my paycheck, and then any other outside earnings, single check rebates, or other miscellaneous income have been getting thrown in there to boot. this was a good year, and between tax returns and freelance jobs, i was able to come up with almost another $1000 of miscellany to stuff under my savings mattress. i’m just afraid that this next year won’t be as kind, and that my race to have 2 months worth of living expenses in the stronghold could take another 2 or more years to build. i was so close.

i think i get it now. saving money is like taking prozac. it takes the edge of worry off of working and living in a world where expensive emergencies can streak across the road like a spooked deer at any time. sure, my new roof looks nice, will add resale value to my home, and will most hopefully prevent any future water damage… but it took a little bit of my security with it, and i think i’m going to be in mourning for a little while. *i’ll be in my room*





squirrel talk

22 04 2010

as you’ve probably figured out by now, there are a crapload of frugal websites floating out there on the internet. and let’s be truthful now, not all of them are good.  and frankly, a lot of them are EXACTLY THE SAME. they’re all pretty much crapping out the same deals, it’s really a question if you prefer seeing them on the pink background or the green. no disrespect, those websites provide a great service in doing all the tedious coupon homework so that we don’t have to, but it does seem like it’s getting harder and harder to find really original takes on thriftiness.  so every now and again when i do stumble upon something fresh, i gotta tell everybody in the neighborhood (that’s you) about it.

i love almostfrugal because it has an adorable squirrel mascot and not a sexified cartoon version of the author. i love almostfrugal because it ignores the deals entirely and focuses on starting productive discussions about the pitfalls of personal finance. but mostly, i love almostfrugal because it’s such a good listener. alongside their own daily generated content, they also seek out other money saving/deal seeking/penny pinching blog folks, and ask them what they’re doing. the same 4 questions every time, but always jammed full of new insight from the various participants. a gem from heather @ inexpensively from her turn on the almostfrugal merry-go-round: ” being frugal means we can lower our budget, but it doesn’t have to mean lowering our standards.” simple, honest, and smart as hell.

since it’s incredibly unlikely that they’ll be knocking on my door anytime soon (um, i mean ever), i thought i would try my hand at their little questionnaire:

what does frugality mean to you? (this sounds like a miss america question)
to me, frugality is the end goal. no matter how you make the magic happen (coupons, garage sales, or just learning to do without), frugality is what happens when we are able to assess the balance between our needs and wants and make decisions that will best serve our financial security. i’m not there yet. i feel like right now i’m just learning to pay attention to the fact that i AM spending. i’m hoping that someday in the near future i will learn how to pause before i get to the checkout counter and be able to successfully make those assessments. someday…

what is something that you do that is ‘typically’ frugally?
consignment & thrift shopping! i’m a complete goodwill whore. i generally refuse to pay retail for most stuff (shoes obviously excepted), but i also prefer old things to new. old navy is great and all, but in a town as small as this, you’re likely to end up on a metro bus with at least two other people wearing the same outfit. vintage keeps things interesting and unique. and the dirt cheapness doesn’t hurt either.

what is something frugal that you do that is unusual?
homemade spanx! shit is EXPENSIVE, and i’m sure that real thing works way better… but whenever i get a run in a pair of control top pantyhose or tights, i cut the legs off and wear them under dresses for stomach control and to reduce thigh rub friction. wow, that sounds really really pathetic when i say it out loud.

what are some of your longterm goals that being frugal will help you to accomplish?
well initially, i’d like to be revolving debt free and have at least 2 months of expenses socked away somewhere safe. and then maybe some retirement fundage? but it isn’t really even about that. like i said in question 1, i just want to figure out how to take a breath before i make a purchase big or small and be able to make a smart choice in the best interest of whatever my concrete financial goals might be. although i’d probably settle for being out of hock to bank of america.

i know, kind of lame! now your turn.