New Years Resolutions – It’s Go Time!

Well it’s New Years time, so that means resolution time. Obviously, my big resolution is to save some serious dough this year. But, in order to do that I have some other smaller resolutions that need to happen. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

1. I will not buy anymore lip gloss. I own 30. That’s plenty.

2. I will not buy any more black shirts. The entire third drawer of my dresser is filled with black shirts. I wear a lot of black. I’m not goth or anything, they just always seem to work  I’m pretty sure I own more than 10, so that should be enough to keep me for the year.

3. I will not buy any more purses, without getting rid of one first. I have quite a few, and they all look good. I don’t need any more.  I’m giving myself a small out because I do own some that are a little old. If I consigned them, then I feel I can get a new one. But, I only can do this if they go to a loving home.

So far this has all been about buying things (a big weakness for me), but there are more resolutions below.

4. I will make, stick to, and report on my budget every month. This is going to be a hard one since unexpected expenses pop up at every turn, but I’m going to give it the good old college try.

5. I will have more dinner parties (on a budget). I love to cook for my friends. It’s a great excuse to try new recipes (and clean my apartment on a regular basis). I can host a dinner for 4 that costs the same as 1 dinner out for me, so I think it’s a wise resolution.

6. I will continue learning how to master the grocery store. I’m getting better (thanks to the Safeway’s Just For U program), but I still have a way to go to consistently meet my monthly goal of $150 – $200 on groceries and not feel deprived.

6. I will try at least one new (free and/or discount) thing to do in D.C. a month. I’m starting right away on this one. My first event is tonight! I’m headed to the Phillips after 5 to see an exhibit with a friend (cost $12). I’ve also been curious about the free movie series at the Georgetown Library.

In addition to these yearlong resolutions, I’ve decided to also set monthly goals for myself. If I make it through the month and meet my goal then I get a treat. My January resolution is to go through the month interest free, i.e. without using my credit card AT ALL. I have some money saved up to cover any unforeseen expenses, just in case. Things that I’m tackling this month include a baby shower, a weekend with friends at the Boars Head Inn in Charlottesville (including a massage – don’t be dumb), and a trip to the aforementioned J.Crew outlet in Lynchburg, VA. Eeek! We’ll see if I can make it out and still meet my goals!

How am I doing so far? Do you think I have gone crazy? I am totally in the market for any resolution recommendations you might have for me as well, so send them on if you have them!

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Budget Breakdown

Ladies and gentlemen, today, I am a sad sack. Reason why = I finally made a budget. Well, actually I didn’t really make a budget as much as look at what I spent in the last month to see where I should save. All I can say is WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING??

My financial advisor sent me a handy-dandy excel spreadsheet to track my expenditures, but I took it a step further and looked at every expense I had in the last month. Here are some eye-opening facts about me:

I love drugstores. In particular, drugstore.com (free shipping on orders over $25!) and CVS, but I have been known to stop at a Rite Aid now and then. Want to know WHY I know this? Because I spent $148.42 at them last month, and I can’t tell you what I bought. Perhaps some toiletries or cleaning supplies, but more than likely, it was another lip gloss to add to my collection of almost 30. I have serious problems.

Speaking of problems, other problem areas for me include iTunes ($51.05) and the grocery store (which we know from yesterday). I spent $370.32 on groceries last month. According to my financial advisor, who I’m hating more by the minute, that number should be cut in half. Bye bye meat and wine – hello ramen noodles and D.C. tap water!

There are, of course, two dollar figures conspicuously missing from this post – food/drink and clothes. Frankly, I can’t own up to those, but rest assured, they will be tackled along with the aforementioned problem areas.

Now that I’ve had my come to Jesus moment, the next stop is figuring out what I actually should be spending each month to save some dough. Stay tuned for more to come on that front.

Safeway – You’ve Foiled Me Again

So I headed to the Safeway this weekend to buy groceries for the week. According to my financial planner, I should only be spending $150 – $200 on groceries per month. I went to see if it was possible, and frankly, I don’t think it is.

First, I used my Safeway app on my phone to apply coupons to anything that I was planning to buy that was on their list. That saved me a whopping $2.13. Then, I went through the store and bought 20 food items and 3 birthday cards – some of which were on the club card savings. AND, there was no meat, no wine, and no household products either, mind you. This is my measly cart.

And for all of this effort, my stuff STILL cost $75.44 – half of my costs for the month. I usually get 2 boxes from a local CSA each month. Those are $30 a piece, so basically that taps out my monthly budget.

I’m going to have to get real creative to make this stuff last – I think I have some chicken in the fridge. But I don’t know how to make this last – and, seriously, I cannot live without meat or wine. It’s just not possible.

Is there a cheaper grocery store anywhere in D.C.? Does anyone know how to game the system??

 

Getting started…

My newly acquired financial adviser announced in our first conversation that I live a lavish lifestyle. I still don’t totally believe her. As a young, single professional in Washington, I have certain unavoidable expenditures nee NEEDS. That said, it did get me thinking. I would like to buy a house one day, and to do that, I need pay off my debts and start saving some serious cash. But, I’m not willing to do it at the expense of my livelihood. I love to go out, try new restaurants, see my friends, SHOP…and recently (as in, for the last several years), I’ve been doing that without much thought about my savings account. This is my attempt to turn that around. 

And so, this great experiment begins. Can I live in a big city on a budget and still have fun and do the things I want to do? I guess the answer is…we’ll see.

Here goes nothing…