Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's One of Those Posts!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I think that Thanksgiving is actually one of my favorite holidays, now that I no longer work in retail.  I like that it's a holiday devoted to gratitude and gluttony.  Even though I personally don't eat turkey, I still find it very easy to fill up on delicious sides.  And last year, a local pizza shop served up a thanksgiving pizza with stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey and a side of gravy (for dipping).  I tried it (without turkey); it was interesting...  I'm glad I had it, but I don't think I'll get it again this year.

In grand tradition, I'm going to list of a few things I am thankful for, and please add yours in the comments!

  1. I am thankful for my job.  Not only do I love it, but it pays me a living wage, has retirement matching and offers affordable health insurance.
  2. I am thankful for my car.  I actually kind of hate my car because it has a bunch of random quirks that are just annoying, but it also has over 100,000 miles on it and still runs just fine.  I intend to drive it until it just won't drive any more. I'm lucky to have a car that runs well and I don't take that for granted.
  3. I am thankful for my health.  I have no major health issues, and despite the fact that I seem to have wintertime perma-sniffles, I'm doing just fine.  Your health can change in an instant, so I am going to appreciate what I've got.
  4. I am thankful for my friends--both in person and virtual.  I have met so many people over the years who I'm still friends with.  I love being able to know people from all over the world and I love keeping up with people easily.  Which leads me to...
  5. I am thankful for social media.  See above.  I have lived in so many different places and had so many different jobs that I've met hundreds of people who I actually care about, but whom I would never call on the phone.  I love that I can keep up with their lives with relative ease on facebook or other social media outlets.  I also love that facebook allows you to develop friendships more slowly.  I'm a rather reserved person until I know someone, so it's much easier for me to seem interesting (and have things to talk about) when I'm not put on the spot.
  6. I am thankful for my boyfriend and my kitteh.  Ah, the men in my life, they are good.  Wee Watson and I have been together 12 years (since he was about five months old) and he has been my best cat friend and faithful mascot.  BF and I just had our five year anniversary, which is bonkers because I still don't feel like running away.

    I promise he's not actually morbidly obese--it's the angle
What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's a Rant: The Follow Up

I am very, very pleased to report that I seem to have found a solution to the birth control dilemma.  After speaking with a nurse a while back, I made an emergency appointment to see a doctor other than my doctor (mine wasn't available).  Thankfully, I had a comp day at work from working Columbus Day because I'm not eligible to take vacation days yet.

When I spoke to the nurse, she said that there was a program to provide birth control to woman whose insurance doesn't cover it, but I was pretty skeptical about qualifying for it because on paper I make a good living and would never be considered low income. Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be an issue.

Apparently there's a federal program called Title X, which is the National Family Planning Program.  Though this program has existed for 40 years, I'd never heard of it before.  Thankfully, Nuvaring is covered under Title X, so now all I have to do is have a nurse visit once every three months and I'll get my birth control from them for free!  This is such a huge relief, I can't even tell you.  Thankfully, I have Wednesday mornings off, so I won't need to use sick or personal time for these visits.

I suspect that I might have been able to get insurance to cover it since I have been diagnosed with menorrhagia, but since my doctor is fully booked for the next three months, and the claim would have to be sent to insurance, who knows how long it would take to get that all sorted out.

Either way, I am so glad this program exists.  I'm feeling pretty relieved, though still paranoid that something else is going to come up.  Also, I kept thinking through out this whole debacle how lucky I am to have a car.  My doctor's office (she moved about six months ago) is a very nice facility, but it's a 30 minute drive from my house and the nearest bus stop from there is 2.5 miles away on roads that often don't have sidewalks.  When I went to pick up my first Title X birth control, they only had one ring in stock, so I have to make another trip out there in a couple weeks to get more.  I'm certainly not complaining, but it seems like if you don't have insurance, you either have to spend a lot of time or a lot of money trying to not have a baby.

Still, I'm grateful this program exists, and I'm happy to be able to tell other people about it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cheapskatery in Extreme--The Do Nots

As I said in my previous post, there are a lot of gems of information in Extreme Cheapskates, but there are also a lot of rather insane things that these people do that just make it not worth it to save a few dollars.  Most of the most extreme people were incredibly obsessed with saving money on electricity and water.  This makes sense, obviously, and anecdotally, I realized that if I keep my laptop unplugged overnight (just my laptop), I save about $10/month on my electric bill--and it's better for the laptop's battery.  However, I do not unplug EVERYTHING in my house the second I stop using it, I occasionally leave lights on in a room that I'm not in and I have some non-CFL lightbulbs.

This all comes back to the whole frugal vs. cheap debate, in particular the question of how much work you have to do to save $.50.  in the case of one woman on the show, she showers at the gym.  She says that she would be there anyway, and like saving money on her home water bill by doing it that way.  This makes sense.  Then she shows her pee jar and says that the only time she flushes her home toilet is when she's moved her bowels.  The rest of the time, she pees in a jar and adds it to her compost pile.

Showering at the gym = worth it
Peeing in jars = not worth it

The number one rule of frugality (or cheapskatery), as far as I see it is: Don't be a dick.
  • Don't fill up on samples and never buy anything.
  • Don't refill your ketchup bottles from ketchup packets that you've gotten from restaurants where you haven't purchased anything.
  • Don't serve houseguests food you found in the trash.
  • Don't exploit other people just so you can avoid spending money.
Once thing that was more interesting to me than watching people reuse paper towels and dental floss, was learning how some of these people started down the road to extreme cheapskatery.  One woman on the show was married at 19 and divorced at 22 with a baby and no money.  Another woman was a victim of the dot com bubble bursting.  She doesn't say how long she was unemployed, but I'm still reeling from about six weeks of unemployment a couple years ago, so I kind of see where she's coming from.

When you've been vulnerable like that, you will do anything to not feel that way again.  It probably seems like you can never have enough money, and it's very easy to just embrace bizarre behaviors to save a few cents.  Plus, I admit, I really hate buying toilet paper too (but I still do it).  Watching this show and reading this article on 7 Things No One Tells you About Being Homeless, really made me realize--or re-realize, I guess, how important it is to plan ahead and have emergency savings.  You don't have to be an extreme cheapskate to save money, you just need to be aware of your spending and be able to control it.  Everyone has fixed expenses, but everyone also had discretionary expenses too.

For me:
Eating most of my meals at home and packing my lunch for work (and taking home leftovers when the option is presented to me even if I get some odd looks) = worth it
Dumpster diving for food = not worth it

Friday, November 22, 2013

Maybe I'm Over It?

I used to run about four half marathons a year, plus usually one 10k, one 5k, and the grog and dog jog .  At the start of every race season, I'd feverishly register really early to get the best price. Then the first race would come around in early May, and I'd spend every subsequent weekend either running a race or training for one.  Don't get me wrong, I love running, but I'm really starting to wonder if I really want to bother registering for and running all these races.

Prices for half marathons range from $45-$100.  Even if I was getting the best price, I'd spend at least $300 on registration fees in a single year.  Sure you get a swag bag, a medal and a t-shirt, but I never really did anything with any of that stuff (I donate my medals and usually the shirts), and now I'm starting to wonder if I'm just over it.

I still love running, but it seems silly to spend so much money on something I can do for free.  I don't really need to motivation of a big race to get me out and moving, and honestly, I have no idea how to train properly and usually just run what I feel like running.  Usually on Thanksgiving, I run the Pie Run in the morning, which is a 5 mile race that benefits the Newport food bank.  A bunch of friends also do it, and it's usually really fun (and it's a much cheaper race than most).  This year I opted out, and a friend suggested that we just meet up at a park, map a route and run for free.  We're even still collecting non-perishable food items for donation, we're just saving ourselves $25 apiece.

Another gripe I have with a lot of the longer races is the fact that you don't know what the race registration fee is actually for.  In the case of the Pie Run, they tell you it's for the food bank.  In the case of the Rock and Roll race series (which is the most expensive half marathon ever), the money seems to directly benefit the Competitor Group, which is a private, for-profit group that seems to do nothing more than put on overpriced races where most of the work that people see is done by volunteers.

I still do like the challenge of training for a race and trying to beat my previous time, but I just don't feel like paying $60 for the privilege.  The past two years, I was able to bundle three races together and pay $100 for the bunch, which was a great deal, but this year, they jacked the price up to $160.  I know there's an expense involved with putting on a race of a certain size. You have to get permits, block off streets, pay police, but I also feel like there's just a lot of greed involved and it doesn't sit well with me.

So this year I think I'll skip the Cox Rhode Races for the first time in four years, even though they do have charities listed on their website.  Instead I'll do the Jamestown bridge race, which I've done every year since it started (a friend knows the race organizer personally and knows that she gives a lot of money to charity), and the Newport 10-miler to benefit the Fort Adams Trust: "A portion of proceeds from this event will benefit the Fort Adams Trust, a 501 (C) (3) non-profit with a mission to protect and promote the historic places and public spaces at the gateway to Narragansett Bay and Newport. This includes directing and supporting the stabilization, restoration, maintenance and operation of Fort Adams as a public historic site."

I can feel good about that.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Newer Scheme: ThredUp

I don't think I've ever taken clothes to a consignment store.  I used to go to Plato's Closet every now and then, which is a kind of consignment store for teens.  I would bring in a whole pile of stuff, the 16-year-old staffers would paw through it, and then they'd reject most of it and shame me a little bit.  Usually, I'd walk out with maybe $5, but I figured that it was worth it because I would have just donated that stuff to the thrift store for nothing otherwise.

As far as real consignment stores,  they kind of baffle me.  I've shopped at them, but it seems that in selling things to them, there are a lot of rules.  You have to sell things by season, and you have to do it way before that season arrives.  Most of the places around here, you have to make an appointment to have them look at your stuff.  Also, I don't buy a lot of super high end stuff, so it seems like they'd just reject me and waste both our time.

Because of this, I have had a pile of very nice clothing in my closet that I just can't bear to give to the thrift store.  Most of it is stuff I bought for work that either doesn't fit me well, or I didn't end up liking after a while.  Every now and them, I'd dig a piece out and try it on, but either the skirt was too short or the pants too high-waisted--something was just off for me.  So they'd go back into the closet.

So I was incredibly excited with I read about a new online consignment company: ThredUp.  They only take clothing in perfect condition--which makes sense, but you can send them things for free (no shipping costs), any season, and then you can either get cash for what sells, or store credit to buy replacement clothes.

Once I requested a bag from them and started shopping my closet, I realized that I actually had a lot of clothes that I just never wear.  I used their brand finder to see what they accept, de-linted a couple items, dumped the lot of them in the bag they sent me (took about three days to get it), and took that down to the FedEx drop box a few blocks away.  After about a week, I got this email from them:
Thanks for returning your polka dot Clean Out bag! 
We're excited to add your practically new clothes to the thredUP Shop.
We carefully inspect each item to ensure it meets our high quality standards. This usually takes about 3-5 business days, but because we're experiencing higher-than-expected bag volume we do not expect to process your bag until on or around Monday, December 9th. We sincerely apologize for the delay.
Once we've inspected each item, we'll send you an email letting you know how many items we're able to resell and the total amount you've earned for each.

While you're waiting, browse our high quality, brand name threds at up to 80% off retail prices! As an added thank you for sending in clothing that we can sell to other families, here's a 20% off coupon good for any purchase made within 24 hours: 

So it seems that they're a little backed up right now, but I have no problem waiting.  So far, the process has been pretty painless and I'm pretty thrilled to reclaim some hangers and shelf space in my closet.  I'll keep you posted when I hear back from them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cheapskatery in Extreme

I am loving the fact that all these trashy reality shows from TLC are now streaming on Netflix.  So, I may be a bit late to the party on this one, but I watched Extreme Cheapskates for the first time this weekend and found it... interesting.  When BF and I found it in the Netflix suggestions, he was immediately terrified and made me promise that I wouldn't just do everything that they do on the show.  I promised, and I really mean it.  This show is obviously the most extreme people out there, so they things they do to save a buck are often a bit obsessive and strange, but there are also some good takeaways that anyone could do without being seen as crazy.

Waste Less
This is rule number one for frugality.  Use less of the stuff you have and it will last longer.  Do you need to use quite so much shampoo?  Do you need a whole paper towel, or would a half one or a rag get the job done?  This is obviously something that can go incredibly awry as evidenced by the people who have stopped using toilet paper, or the woman who pees in a bottle to avoid flushes (just let it mellow, lady), but it's also a good thing to just keep in the back of your mind.  I used to have a big problem with using way too much toothpaste.  Apparently I took all the commercials I had seen as a youth to heart, and assumed that you needed to fill the whole brush.  This left me buying toothpaste all the time, and with a sink full of toothpaste globules that were sticky and gross.  Now I use significantly less, buy less toothpaste and I have a cleaner sink.  Toothpaste is pretty cheap, sure, but if someone offered to give you $5 a year, you'd take it right?

Ask for a Discount
This is something I'm terrible at, but I try to get better at.  Frequently when you ask for a discount, you actually get one.  Either way, you don't really lose anything by asking, and you might save a little money.  Similarly, if you can, try to get something for free.  If you need something, ask on Freecycle.  If no one responds, move on to plan B, but you never know what people are looking to get rid of.  Remember my beautiful bike:
Completely free!  I just had to pay to pimp it out, which was not that expensive, and I asked for the tune-up for xmas, so that part didn't cost me anything.

Don't be Beholden to Expiration Dates
Many of the people on this show go dumpster diving, which is something I would probably never do, but the reason that people can manage to find decent food that way is because people throw away perfectly good food all the time.  Grocery stores throw out perfectly good packaged food just because the use by date has passed and so do people just because they get paranoid about eating something that's 'expired'.  I have a tub of yogurt that expired in early October, but I didn't open it until mid October.  It's perfectly good.  I pay attention to smells and sights, and I've never gotten sick.

Learn How to Cook
Learn how to cook, and learn how to cook with cheap ingredients.  Peasant food is becoming sexy again, and honestly, there are a lot of ingredients out there that I never cooked with because they just sounded unappealing.  After actually trying some of this stuff, however, I found that I liked it, or could figure out a way to like it.  I don't advocate making yourself miserable by eating super cheap food that you don't like, but with a little creativity, you can absolutely cook on the cheap.

Stop Thinking Things Need to be Perfect
One thing I really liked on this show was the fact that one of the women admitted very readily that her house was pretty ugly.  She got a good deal on it, it has a lot of positives, but it's not the nicest house in the world.  It still keeps her warm and dry, and she owns it free and clear.  I'd rather have a slightly ugly house than a ridiculous mortgage payment that I couldn't afford.  As long as your place is clean, functional and not falling apart, that's all you really need.

This show has also taught me some things not to do.  Obviously, it's extreme and some of the people profiled seem a bit mentally ill.  You can go crazy with frugality, and that's no better a place to be than being extreme with spending.  But that's another post.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's a Rant

I would like to preface this rant by saying that not only am I incredibly lucky to have my job, but I am also lucky in that I have my dream job.  I love what I do; I genuinely like my co-workers; my boss is awesome and though there will always be little annoyances, my situation is really good and I could see myself staying here for many years.

There is one big issue, however, that makes me want to scream.

I now work for a Catholic institution.  Since religion is not a part of my life, and I grew up in a part of the country with very few Catholics, that makes work a little strange at times.  You go to a meeting and there's a dying Jesus decoration on the wall which disturbs me, but no one else seems to notice.  At new faculty orientation, there was a prayer before we tucked into our lunch of wraps and chips and students keep asking me for different versions of the bible, which is really hard to look up in the library catalog.  These are all quirks and interesting things to observe--it's like visiting Canada, where things are slightly different, but you still speak the language.

The big issue is that since I now work for Catholics, insurance will not cover my birth control.  They would cover it if I had a medical condition like a bleeding disorder, but for 'its intended purpose' no dice.  This seemingly small thing has so far caused me to spend at least an hour on the phone with the pharmacist and my doctor's office, and now I have to come in for an emergency appointment to discuss how we're going to deal with this situation.

See, I'm in the unique predicament where the only birth control that works for me has no generic.  Every other type that I've tried has had horrible side effects, and I'm not willing to take three months of horrible mood swings or physical discomfort to road test any different types. That means that to pay out of pocket for the one I use each month is $103.  A good friend of mine pays $6 a month, to give you a little perspective.  I could get a slight discount, perhaps, if I went to Planned Parenthood, but then I would have to have another exam, and pay for that, plus I'm only supposed to have an exam every five years.  Oh, and I don't want to have another one, cause I just had one.  Every time I need to refill my birth control prescription, it seems like I have to show my vagina to at least three people and waste hours of my time.

It's infuriating and humiliating.

Birth control is not hard drugs.  It would be impossible for me to abuse Nuvaring and get any kind of euphoria or extra non-fertility.  I've been in a monogamous relationship for five years and I don't want to have a baby--that's it. My partner ALSO doesn't want me to have a baby.  Being on birth control also has a lot of other perks that help me be better at my job like lighter periods, skipping periods which makes me take fewer sick days. Because of the ability to skip periods my moods are better, I have more energy, I'm not distracted by how much pain I'm in or by trying not to pass out.  It's really a win/win for everyone.

But it's not seen that way.

So I assumed that since this institution is anti birth control that means that they are pro-baby.  Not so, apparently.  The maternity leave policy is just as horrible as the not paying for birth control policy.  Sure, they'll hold you job for you, but unless you use vacation and sick time, you're not getting paid.  And if you have a difficult pregnancy and need extra time off, you better have savings.

I just don't get it.  Are people just not supposed to be having sex at all?  It does the college no good if all the female employees are out on medical leave all the time. It doesn't help families if people live in constant fear of pregnancy and don't want to have sex because of it.   I just don't understand who is in favor of this.  One of the doctors who is credited with inventing the birth control pill, Dr. John Rock, was a devout Roman Catholic who believed that the ability for married couples to control unwanted pregnancy and keep women healthy was god's will--so they could take care of the children they wanted.

I thought that this would be a small issue when I started my job, but it seems to be taking over my life, my budget and my free time.  I estimate that over the last five years, I have spent at least 40 hours of my life and way too much money sorting out birth control issues.  Going to Planned Parenthood or the doctor's office, taking unpaid time off work, waiting around, having far too many unnecessary exams and then getting lectured by medical professionals who seem to think that I want to have all these exams.  I just need the prescription, people!  You won't give me a prescription unless I take my pants off!  But this is how it works when you either don't have insurance, or have insurance which arbitrarily decides not to cover something that you need to live the life you want.

It's completely backwards and it pisses me off.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let Me Embrace My Flaws As Well As My Strengths

In my mind, the whole point of this blog is coming clean--to myself and my internet friends.  Know thyself, etc.  This is something that is key when it comes to managing your money.  You can't hide bills and pretend they don't exist; you can't ignore debt any more than you can ignore income.  You have to know what's going on, even when what's going on sucks (looking at my plans for November...).

I feel that this is important in all parts of life--not just finance.  You should know who you are, what you like, what your priorities are and what you look like.  This is where Stacey and Clinton come into this post (I miss them so much!).  I have watched What Not to Wear since it premiered in the US.  Prior to that, I watched the UK version.  I love both shows and what I love best about them is that the first thing they do with any participant on the show is try to get them to actually see themselves.  They try to show them who they are, what they actually look like rather than how they see themselves.  If you're going to get clothes that fit and that enhance your figure triumphs while hiding your figure flaws, you have to know what both of those are.  In my mind, that's perfectly tied in with personal finance because you need to both look good and feel confident to do your job well and to find merit in yourself.  It's not the whole package, but it's a big part of it.

This is why I get very annoyed with people who try to take that away from me.

No one can dispute the amount of money I owe the federal government--it's on paper, black and white. But plenty of people think they can dispute what I look like.  As women, we're trained from a very early age to focus on our flaws.
And that's a huge problem.  Of course the flip side of the problem is when people overcompensate by being overly complimentary.  It's just as bad when other people don't allow you to be honest.

If I'm being honest about myself physically, I would say that I have a very long torso, long arms, a reasonably flat stomach, slightly crooked shoulders, very thick thighs and no ass at all.  My thighs are like tree trunks and they pack on muscle quickly and easily.  One time, in grad school, I went to the gym, worked out on the stair climber for an hour, showered and tried to put on the same clothes I had arrived in only to find that my jeans were now too small.  Because of this, I tend to wear more skirts and dresses because it's really hard to buy pants that fit both in the waist and the thighs.  I cannot wear skinny jeans or pencil skirts without looking stupid and/or being incredibly uncomfortable.

I know this about my body.  I'm not asking people to tell me I don't have large thighs because I do.  It's a fact, like my debt to income ratio.  I also like plenty of things about myself--physical and otherwise, but I'm not going to get into how great I am right now.

And yet, I posted something a while back on facebook about briefly forgetting that I do not look good in pencil skirts, and I got hammered by a friend of mine for acting like I had low self-esteem.  Friends occasionally suggest I try on skinny jeans and then disregard me when I say that I can't wear them.  "Don't say that!" or "Sure you can!" Would you say that to Beyonce'?

Beyonce' has thick thighs--FACT
It took me a long time to stop hating the way my body is put together.  I've let a lot of people other the years give me opinions that were just wrong or that did me no favors. Ultimately, I realized that while I may not love everything about the way my body looks, I love what it can do.  I've run 15 half marathons; I have tremendous stamina; I have no major health problems; I have no major disfigurements and I am perfectly happy wearing boot cut jeans and adorable dresses & skirts.

Likewise, don't ask me to hide my head in the sand about my financial situation.  It sucks, but it could be and has been worse.  Don't tell me to wear skinny jeans because everyone else is, I'd rather look good in my clothes than try to be trendy.  Don't tell me that I can afford a European vacation if I've looked at my budget and told you that I can't.

Please, let's let others be honest about who they are and be more honest ourselves.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Eat All The Food: Week Six

Went for a lovely fall run after work and then tucked into a delicious dinner of veggie burger with a side of roasted butternut squash.  I fear that I may not make much progress on the pantry in the coming weeks because all I want to eat is squash!  I'll do my best though.

I scored some more free grapes at my mandatory anti-harassment workshop at work.  I now know not to harass!  For dinner, I made a lavosh pizza with oven roasted butternut squash, cheese and seasonings. I had a similar pizza at a fancy restaurant a while back and though I didn't really like it there, the one I made was aces!

Oven roasted butternut squash, feta and arugula

Late night at work, so I made myself another lavosh squash pizza for lunch.

This was a good 'getting rid of little things' meal.  I had a little pizza sauce left from last Friday, a little pizza cheese, a few mushrooms and one English muffin.  So dinner was an English muffin pizza with the last of the butternut squash and some frozen veg.  My deep freeze is nearly empty!  It's unreal!

Veggie burger and frozen veg-- Birdseye asparagus, gold and white corn and baby carrots.  Once upon a time, I apparently thought that that was my most favorite frozen veg variety.  I swear, I bought like six of those before I realized that the corn wreaks havoc on my tummy when I go running.  Stupid corn!  One bag left...

Got up far too early and caught the train to Boston for the Red Sox victory parade!
That guy!
So, it was a very long, very crowded but very fun day and I did not eat any food from the pantry.
Very crowded
I spent Sunday grazing--as I tend to do.  I had some ramen noodles, a cucumber (split with bf, I'm not greedy), a pb&j, yogurt (which had a use by date of August 27--still tasted fine) and leftover Halloween candy.  Yeah, a really balanced eating day.  I also crockpotted some barley to freeze since it takes forever to cook.

Friday, November 1, 2013

What Am I Doing Wrong?

October was a somewhat expensive month for me.  I had to buy that box spring and pay for delivery--$300+; I got a haircut and started paying for yoga and a gym membership for the first time in a long time--$120; I upped my internet (may downgrade it again though)--$70 (what!?!?!!?), I went out to eat more than usual and treated myself to an overpriced new wallet (that will last for years!), and I bought more gas than before because I work farther from home, etc.  Even with all that though, I got my paycheck, subtracted next month's rent and regular expenses, and didn't have enough left to even cover two of my three credit cards--nevermind putting money into savings.

I know I'm still paying for the clothes buying binge I went on when I got this new job, but I really forgot how much having a constant balance on your credit card just SUCKS.  I was really looking forward to socking away more money each month into savings.  My emergency fund is half what I would like it to be, and even though I'm contributing to my retirement account at work, I still want to max out my Roth IRA as soon as I can.

So, for the month of November, things may get a bit extreme:

  1. Sticking with eating from the pantry.  I still have lots of food and November is a huge free food month so I am not likely to starve.
  2. No extras.  No more clothes, no more shoes, no doing the Mews 5k or the Thanksgiving Pie run.  As much as I love those races, the registration fees total $60 and I can run outside for free (sorry friends).
  3. Cut back on drinking. This is both for my wallet and my waistline (seriously, everything they say about turning 30 is true.  My body is completely betraying me and it's not fair).
  4. Cut back on eating out.  I don't feel like I ate out that much in October, but my budget says I did.
  5. Cheap student theatre instead of professional.  For the first time ever, I actually paid for tickets at the local professional theatre.  It was a great show, but man!  It was pricey! 
  6. Start scheming.  I used to have other sources of paltry income, but they seem to have dried up lately.  Blog income (which was never good) is all but gone; I've sold everything I intended to sell on; I don't secret shop anymore... I need some new schemes (suggestions welcome).  I also need to look into ushering, which I mentioned before and then forgot about.
  7. Hibernate.  It's starting to get cold out, and frankly, I love hunkering down with a book, blanket and cat.  Hibernating is cost-effective and lovely.  Also, I should really blog more and work on that damn novel (free!).
It should (hopefully) only take one month to get me back on track.  I do still have one more shift at job #3 coming, so that's some extra money coming in.  Hopefully with the paycheck I get at the end of November, I can completely wipe out my credit card balances, and then start saving again at the end of December.  It sucks that it will take me so long to get back to a balanced budget, but I also knew I shouldn't have bought two new pairs of shoes and so many pretty dresses/sweaters.  I don't regret stocking up on fleece lined tights, however, that was just smart.