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Finances

December 1, 2011

As a grad student with two horses, one thing I critically lack is money. Luckily I have a financial support system that keeps me and the ponies relatively afloat, but only if I budget wisely. The margin for discretionary spending is extremely limited, and lately, I’ve been guilty of making irresponsible financial decisions. Eating out, seeing a movie, buying the fancy face wash; these are little purchases that insidiously chip away at my account. $20 doesn’t seem like much until you spend it five times in a week.

In effort to control my finances better, I’m going to attempt to keep a log of my spending habits. I’ve never really monitored my spending, afraid I’ll learn some ugly realities of my financial situation. Hopefully, by putting this in writing, I’ll be more conscientious of my habits and will see some areas where I can make beneficial changes.

Day 1:

Grocery Store: $43.31

This is about twice as much as I usually spend on groceries per week. I’d love to get my weekly grocery spending down to $20. In part, the amount is so high because I had to replenish items that are once a month purchases (pickles, jam, peanut butter), and because I had to buy toiletries (toilet paper, so necessary). Now that I’m going over my receipt, I also just realized that they didn’t discount some cheese on sale. The sale price was $2.50 and they charged me $3.59.  I also discovered that Wednesday morning is a terrible time to go grocery shopping; nothing is stocked, clerks are blocking everything, and there are no sales at all.

Gas Station: $ 20

I filled up while gas was cheap. Only $3.03/ gallon!

Campus- bought bike lights: $23

Full of an empowering  take-charge-of-my-life-and-finances energy, I did the right thing and rode my bike to school. Then I realized it would be dark when I left campus, and that I didn’t have any bike lights. That’s a ticketing offense out here, so I had to buy lights from our school bike shop. My decision to ride my bike to class ended up costing me $23 :P. A car trip to campus costs me about $3, so this will only be a financially savvy decision after seven night bike rides to school.

Total: $86. 31    EEEK!

 Where I could improve: I could have saved $2 and bought storebrand bread instead of the fancy (though much healthier) nut bread. I could have double checked my reciept before walking out the grocery store. I need to organize my food so I’m aware of what I have- some leftovers from last week got pushed into the back of the fridge and I discovered them too late. Two meals wasted.  I need to plan ahead so I’m not forced to make emergency purchases- I bet I could have gotten much cheaper bike lights on craigslist if I had the foresight to plan ahead.

What I did well: Didn’t buy anything on campus. Rode my bike to school. Filled up my tank while gas was cheap.  Borrwed a book from a friend rather than buy it at the bookstore.

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