9.28.2011

Call me the Queen of Frugality

You always hear about the broke college student who lives on ramen noodles and alternates between the same three tshirts. That was never me. And honestly, I don't think that's many college kids lately. Perhaps I have a skewed perception since I went to school with a bunch of people who drive Mercedes and wear Jimmy Choos, but I think most college students live pretty fabulous lives for four years.

There are these things called "parents" who often offer assistance in the form of financial support during college. I pranced through my college days going on random shopping trips and eating out when TCU's food seemed lackluster (which was pretty much all the time). Then I went halfway across the globe and gallivanted around Australia. Tra la la la la. I spent plenty of my own money along the way, but daddy helped. He helped A LOT.

Guess what? He's not helping anymore. Rightfully so, because I am an adult! (Much to my delight and my demise.) I have a job! I cook! I don't study! I read Real Simple! I ... pay bills. That last one is the not-so-fun part.

While I now have more money coming in on a bi-monthly basis than I've ever had before, that money has the tendency to disappear faster than I've ever seen before. Rent, utilities, car insurance, car payments, student loans, groceries ...

WHERE DID ALL THESE MONEY VACUUMS COME FROM?

Turn a blind eye to college students. They're fine. The recent college graduates are the ones whose stories need to be told. Some of us can't find jobs and have to move home and continue to depend on mommy and daddy for an allowance. Others find jobs, but these jobs pay recent-college-graduate salaries. Making such a salary is a right of passage. There's no denying that we have less experience than other seasoned experts in the field. The main thing we have to offer is that we're cheap. And while we are grateful for a paycheck and the opportunity to learn and gain experience, we have to make certain adjustments to our previous spending habits.

I have an excel document saved on my MacBook that is titled "Budget." Shiver.

Since I have less flex cash than I'm used to, I've had to get creative about cutting corners so I can put some money toward important things. (Hello, boot season is coming up. Purchase(s) will need to be made.)

My current money-saving tactics:

1. Leftovers are my best friend. This week I made the compilation of two dishes of leftover pasta into five meals. Thank you, American restaurants, for serving Hercules-sized portions!


2. If there is a way to get a free or discounted meal, I will find out about it. Free Chick-fil-a breakfast: check. Free Chipotle burrito bowl: Check. Free Chili's queso: check. Are you jealous you aren't as in-the-know with free food options as I am?

I have plans to dress up as a burrito this Halloween. All in the name of a free meal.

3. I'm not as coupon-crazy as the wackos on Extreme Couponing, but any brand loyalty I have will be tossed out the window if I have a coupon. Last week I got Advil for a cheaper price than the generic knock-off all thanks to a coupon! Ah, the satisfaction of a good coupon purchase.


4. I know exactly where the  cheapest gas prices are, and I will make an extra detour on my way home just to save six cents per gallon. My secret: the QuikTrip on Alta Mere. Always busy, but always worth it. They also have extremely cheap prices on wine, if you're looking for the double whammy.


5. I cook. This is the most genius of money-saving plans. It's especially genius because when I say "I cook" I really mean "Suzie cooks while I watch and occasionally stir something." Thanks for keeping me well fed, Suz!

In this situation, Suzie is usually the one cooking and I'm the one supervising with a glass of wine.

I'm not cheap. I'm frugal. And I've got this real-world thing figured out (ish).

Next step: Lola.

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