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Got gas? [RANT]

February 29th, 2008 at 07:43 am

The title wasn't meant to be a double entendre, but now that I think about it, I did feel uncomfortable gurglings in my GI system yesterday after I went to the gas station. The guy asked, What d'ya want? and me in my blissful ignorance and assurance with having just visited the ATM, told him to 'Fill it up, regular.' The price of regular gas was $2.97, and I started doing the math in my head to pass the time. "13 gallon tank, so that's roughly $39 for gas...sigh..."

Well, guess what the total ended up being? $43 friggin bucks. No friggin way. But I checked the pump and turns out my lovely Camry has a bigger tank than I'd thought. I probably should beat my head hard for not "knowing" my car as well as i should, but back to money issues- $43!

For this month, gas spending was $20 for each Sunday ($80) plus this monster fillup. So $123. I did do some extra driving this month, shuttling my parents from their South Jersey house to Newark Airport, also drove to have dinner and see friends in the Edison/Raritan area. I guess I should be glad my daily commute is only 10-15 minutes (7 miles) each way.

I know I can't stop the rising price of gas but i guess i could be more careful about the amount of driving I do. This month I have been pretty bad about lunchtime jaunts- hopping in the car instead of walking/running the 1-1.5 miles from my office to the post office or Dunkin Donuts or whatnot. I can't really cortail weekend driving unless I become a total hermit (I'm already 90% of the way to achieving that dubious title) so, I don't know, maybe I'll just drive the speed limit instead of 5-10 miles above?

Every little bit of gas economy helps, especially in this day and age of outrageous gas prices!

My electricity bill came (ominous music)...

February 25th, 2008 at 03:32 pm

...ha ha, I'm just exaggerating here. Last year, I was in tears when my electricity bills for the coldest months of January and February were both approaching $200. And mind you, I am living in a

Ouch! Bills!

February 6th, 2008 at 04:47 pm

After the rent, utilities/water and cable, my other bills come out to around $400/month. I was thrilled the past two months when my cc bill was closer to $300, due in part to my "smarter" grocery shopping strategies (cook more, buy less prepackaged foods).

And then...it all goes down.

Got my biannual car insurance bill. Yes, it is a necessary evil. But it adds another $480 on top of my regular monthly expenses. Ouch.

Also, I know this month's elecricity bill is going to be astronomical. Probably close to $200, given the cold late January cold spell.

Looks like I won't be able to contribute much, if any, to savings this month. Boo.

Picking up spare change

February 2nd, 2008 at 02:37 pm

I'm a believer in, "find a penny, pick it up" regardless if it is heads up or down. However, I really don't often find change lying around! For kicks, I started a tally of the change I found on the ground. So far it's been a whopping 28 cents.

I have read stories of people who find an AMAZING amount of money in parking lots, public parks or camping grounds, store floors, etc. I guess those people are just very fortunate!

"Lab Rat" Payment

January 28th, 2008 at 03:09 pm

Last year, I answered an ad for one of the local fragrance companies to help sniff and evaluate their new fragrances. I'm now one of their Monday "regulars" and it's actually a sweet deal. Go in, sniff, answer surveys, get paid. For about 10-15 minutes work I get $15. That's $60/hour! I wish my regular job paid this well!

The money came at an opportune time. I was down to $25 in cash and spent $20 on gas this weekend. Passed up on a $5 car wash even though my poor car is covered with about three splats of bird guano. With today's payment, I don't have to visit the ATM. I spent $2 mailing a package. The rest, if I can hold on to it, will go towards Thursday or Friday lunch, which is when people in my office tend to go out.

Friday freebies

January 25th, 2008 at 03:21 pm

I apologize for ranting about something entirely off-topic as per this forum. I had already complained to a coworker who was shocked silent, because normally I am very complacent, calm and smiling. I guess I still wanted to get it off my chest so I just vented here.

Anyway. Here's my frugality bit of the day. I came home to find yet another Walmrt freebie in the mail. This time it was Dove shampoos. It's not my normal brand, but hey, free is free.

They came in those packets instead of the little travel sized bottles. I'm curious to know, do people find those packet sizes sufficient for a good washing? My hair is ahoulder length but there's no way those packets contain enough conditioner for my entire head o' hair. Or maybe I'm just a conditioner hog?

Oh well. I'm pooped. Today I can truly say, TGIF!

Morning spoiled by road rage

January 25th, 2008 at 06:08 am

Ahh, nothing like waking up on a freezing cold morning with a sore throat, and then to top that off to be a victim of road rage. How is it that in all my years of commuting, it is during my current shortest commute (10 minutes) that I have witnessed the most incidents of road rage and careless driving?

I take mostly back roads to work. Many of them go through housing developments so the speed limit on the same road may change from 45 to 25 then back up to 45. Call me pokey but I tend to drive right at teh speed limits. Especially considering these roads go through residential, it is no surprise to see people biking or crossing the road. Better safe than sorry, right.

Well, apparantly to some people in my town, GETTING THERE is more important than being a safe driver.

I was just slowing down while entering a 25mph zone when I noticed the driver behind me (minivan mom w/ cell phone glued to ear) was zooming up at a scary speed. She came right up to my bumper and then began tailgating me. Argh. At the very end of the slower speed zone, she backed off (wow, I could see her front bumper finally) but when the speed went back up to 45, she was right on my ass.

Rather than put the pedal to the metal, I gradually sped up to 45, with minivan mom right on my tail. Well, that lasted about 5 seconds because she got fed up and decided to pass me. In no-pass zone (double yellow lines). When there were cars coming! Those guys honked and bless them, there was no collision. Minivan mom passed me... then hit her brakes because she found herself behind the line of cars that was in front of me. SO, that meant she'd managed to hop ahead of one car (me) in the line of cars on the road. Good for you, woman!

I watched her tailgate the poor car that was now in front of her. Then that car made a right turn. And guess what, minivan mom swerved into the left lane to get around the car as it slowed down to turn. And yes, there were some cars in the left lane. No collisions, though. Thank goodness for wide roads.

Despite her "get ahead" tactics, minivan mom ended up a big loser anyway. She'd passed me, but we ended up reaching the same destination at roughly the same time. She managed to pass ONE car but did that gain her any precious time? Nope. But she did manage to piss me off and put me in a bad mood! Thanks, lady!

Picking up the pieces

January 23rd, 2008 at 06:14 am

Yes, it's been awhile, but I found this in my bookmarks and thought, whoops. Time to update!

My company gave a rather generous bonus this year. Well, I thought it was, considering we're not really a large company. However, judging by the smirks on some other coworkers' faces, there was obviously something I was missing, so I asked. TUrns out our company used to give two bonuses/yr, and in the past couple of years (after I joined) the company stopped giving the second bonus. Hmmm.

I guess I see the "rosier side" of things. Coming from the world of acadaemia, where we were forced to pay out of pocket for nearly everything, I was tickled pink to join my current company who picks up the bill for whatever office supplies you need. And free coffee/hot water in the kitchen. Heh.

In terms of offering employees bonuses, well, to behonest, it's not written in company policy that they MUST give bonuses each year. It's a benefit and they can choose to take away benefits at will. Of course, it's a nice perk but, well, it's not something I'd quit my job for. Maybe I'm too complacent? I don't really know. I love my job, I have an easy 10 minute commute, I get what I'd consider decent pay (about mid to high range according to those jobs websites). So for now, I'm quite content =)

Still getting used to the gym

November 2nd, 2007 at 01:14 pm

I joined a small gym a month ago. After one month, I must say, I'm still on the border with this decision. I have not gone as frequently as I thought I would. I did faithfully attend two kickboxing classes per week. Aside from that, I think I went to the gym about 3 or 4 times on my own.

The monthly fee is $79; if I attended 8 classes, that's roughly $10/class. I checked their website and read that, if you decide to attend a random class here or there, it is $10/class. So I guess I broke even. Factor in those 3-4 visits and I saved just an itsy bit of money.

So...the verdict? Undecided. One of the reasons I did not go to the gym was because it has been a very warm October. I've been ok with waking early to run in the mornings. But from experience, I know I HATE running in the cold, dark, icy pre-dawn hours, so that might push me towards using the gym. I'm actually going to go after work today and try out running on the treadmill.

I'll give this another month. If all I end up doing is going to the kickboxing classes, then I'll probably cancel the membership and just do the pay-by-class option. It depends if I can learn to love the dreadmill- oops! I mean, treadmill =)

No spend November?

November 1st, 2007 at 11:30 am

Can I make it through this month without spending on non-essential items? By that I mean no clothes, no purses, no mid-afternoon vending machine sugar boosts. It would definitely be neat to see how much $$$ I end up saving. Estimating from previous months' expenditures, I might save anywhere from $300-500!

Winterizing the Apartment

October 31st, 2007 at 12:34 pm

It has finally started to get cold here. I actually had to scrape frost off my car windshield yesterday morning! I have the heater set for 60 (yes, that low) and I heard it kick on overnight. Sigh. Hence comes winter, my least favorite season because I abhor the cold. And lucky me, my overpriced miserable little apartment has practically zero insulation. I have bad memories of me huddling beneath two comforters, wearing full set of thermal undies, sweatshirt, sweatpants...and still feeling frozen.

This year, I'm going to try and be a little more prepared. I went to the Home Depot and bought some weatherstrips, then spent about half hour applying them to the one window in my apartment (I bought the DIY self-stick foam strips...probably not the best but I'm only renting until next Spring so I'm not interested in a longterm solution). While tackling the sliding door, though, I was appalled to see the door would not shut entirely but left about a quarter-inch crack. I'll see if my horrible lazy landlord will fix it; if not, then I can search for a wooden dowel or slab to put in the sliding track that will force the door shut.

Next up is to look for those door draft "snakes." I'm wondering if I could make them myself out of old sweaters or shirts, hmmm, or would that be too hard without a sewing machine?

Hopefully with this planning I'll be more comfortable this winter!

Stereotypes of those who use coupons?

September 29th, 2007 at 10:28 am

I bought some groceries this morning and happened to notice one brand of shampoo on sale. I happened to also have a $1 off coupon- lucky day! However, as I proceeded through checkout, when I handed the coupon over to the cashier, he stared at it like, What. The. Heck? and then sort of stood there like he didn't know what to do. I said, half-jokingly, "It's a coupon."

"I know," he said, slowly. He finally scanned it and, bloop, off came another dollar from my total bill. But he still looked, well, confused.

"Is anything wrong?" I offered.

"No. But, like, that shampoo was already on sale," he said. Like is that a problem??? He then looked at me closely, scrutinizing my face....and if I could place a bet, I'd say he was trying to guesstimate my age. Because, as has happened in the past, cashiers have joked with me about being so young, yet already *into* coupon clipping. I typically joked back that to them to give me a break, I'm a starving student/grad student.

But now I'm a working professional. Sure, I can afford to pay full price for the shampoo. But why not shop for bargains- at any age? It's just the smart thing to do!

Joined a gym finally

September 18th, 2007 at 06:04 pm

There's some purchases that are a slap on the wrist, but then there are those that are worthwhile. I am having so much trouble with the rise-and-shine-and-RUN (only end up running on weekends). I actually started looking into the nearby fitness clubs but was so annoyed by the astronomical membership fees.

Then it hit me- bonk. I've been taking a cardio class at a small martial arts studio. I signed up via the local community college, but then I thought, well how much would membership to the martial arts studio cost? So tonight I asked, and I was pleased to find it was a reasonable $79/month with no yearly commitment! In addition to all the fitness classes, they also have a small, but well-equipped gym! I snuck a peek in the room and saw it was NOT crowded; plus, those who were working out looked very normal, not like pumped-up weightlifters or cell-phone gabbing gym rats.

So I signed up for a month. I really like the non-descript aspect of hte place, the fact it's not at all crowded. It's close to work and the place I volunteer, so I should have no trouble finding time to go- hopefully!

Lazy morning, busier afternoon

September 17th, 2007 at 05:00 pm

I'm such a hypocrite. After yesterday's rally cry, guess who was tucked cozy under her covers at 6AM, instead of jumping up for a run in the beautiful, brisk morning? AHHHHHH!!!!

There's always tomorrow....

Anyway, today was not all unproductive. I had the small, but always welcome, email from Pinecone, this site that pays you to take online surveys, that heralded a $5 deposit. That's lunch money! And speaking of surveys, one of the nearby pharmaceutical companies has a consumer products testing panel- and I got picked! So every so often, I'll get an email inviting me to come in a sniff a bunch of products. I get paid $10. I get $50 if I go participate in a roundtable discussion but those are held mostly during the days. There's no way I can sneak out of work for two hours =(

To top things off, somehow I got it into my cranium to finally give Ebay a go. Though, I must admit, I'm a chicken, I just started off small by listing shoes. My ultimate goal is to sell some of my designer bags but I'm scared S***less about scammers and other lawless felons (heh) that abound on Ebay. So, small steps.

Fitness Vows

September 16th, 2007 at 04:21 pm

Dear Self,

Get off your butt and start jogging again. Remember how diligent you were at exercising while in graduate school? Somehow, you managed to climb out of bed at 5:45 every morning to go run 5-6 miles every day. What's going on now???

You have a stable job that is, for the most part, regular hours and no overtime.
You have considerably LESS stress than you did in graduate school; no more feelings of guilt, no more overbearing PI, no more pressure to get perfect results, no more guilt trip/ threats from assorted professors out for my thesis blood.
You live in a much safer neighborhood, with sidewalks, heck, even a nearby park and trails to run on. So why not RUN??!!

Maybe you need to go to sleep earlier instead of messing around on the compooter. Yeah, that would help =)

Do your best, don't give up, and remember that it takes a couple of weeks before running becomes "habit." Go for it!

Your brain

Plugging up the spending drain

September 15th, 2007 at 01:06 pm

Just did the budgeting for August. I use Quicken software, which allows me to allocate spending into categories. Since I am somewhat of an organization freak (I will sort the candy jar in my parent's house by color and candy type!) I create sub-categories so I know exactly what I've been buying. So here are the top five spending categories, in descending order:

clothing: handbags
groceries: myself
groceries: parents
automobile: gas
household: supplies

It irks me that handbags cost as much as they do, and are not exactly a necessity as, say, groceries. What is even more crazy is that I made about three grocery trips each week, and spent $30-50 each visit, BUT this still ended up to be less than the handbags I bought. UGH!

At least I have confidence I can control and even curb my handbag spending. It would be a lot harder to cut the costs of groceries, especially since I have to buy specific items (from the Asian market) for my parents.