Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cheap or Just Plain Clever?

I am pretty excited about this week.

On Thursday, I have an appointment for a very long overdue haircut. At the Aveda Institute in St. Petersburg, the prices are incredible. $12 for a haircut. $35 for a relaxing facial. $40 for an hour long massage. The services are performed by students, and in my experience, they are just as good as anybody else. Especially since they'll be working in a salon that charges triple those prices in six months.

I hate paying full price. For anything.

Growing up, my family didn't have extra money to eat out at nice restaurants, take vacations, or buy designer clothes.

Out of my entire family, I'm one of a handful who went to college.

This is the first time in my life that I have what you'd call "disposable income." Now that I'm in this position, with the economy the way it is, I want to save as much money as I can.

Right out of school, my first job paid (take home pay) the equivalent of about $9.00 an hour. Miraculously I was able to buy a condominium on that salary. Renting one of the bedrooms made this option cheaper than having an apartment. The only upgrade to the place I made was installing mirrors above the bathroom sinks and putting in toilet paper holders. In the two years I owned the condo, the value jumped close to 35% based on the price I sold it for in May of 2007.
I've also managed to conquer my student loans. They used to be close to $30,000. Now, I only have $8,127.54 to go. Much of that progress came thanks to the profit made from the condo sale.

I do have to set aside money every paycheck for my bi-annual car insurance premium and that kind of sucks.

In my current position, I'm making considerable more money and am finally trying to save up some money in an emergency fund. It's going slower than I anticipated though. Why is it that no matter how much money you make, it's always hard to save?

While many of my coworkers are living a comfortable life in the Tampa Bay area, I still sometimes feel like a college student.

I eat off of the dollar value menu at McDonald's a lot. I hate paying more than $30 for a pair of shoes. One pair of boots I own retailed for $200. I got them for $19.99.

My guy recently commented on the lack of furniture in my apartment. It's true. I have a hard time buying large ticket items sometimes. Although I do admit that I have a weakness for electronics, like a Nintendo Wii and an LCD TV.

On most days, I try to stick to a daily food budget of $5 give or take. This is not as difficult as it sounds. It does involve making sandwiches to bring to work, eating leftovers, drive-thru windows and the like. Lately I do find myself eating out more than I should, racking up the food bill quickly...

Priceline has become an ally of mine. For Thanksgiving I'm going to visit my parents in Buffalo. I got a great deal at $18 a day for the rental car. In a week and a half I'm going to Miami. Booked a three and a half star hotel with a bid for $40 a day. Woo hoo! On the hotel's web site, the cheapest room is $139 a night, and on discount sites rooms go for $120. Score another one for me!

So now my goal is to keep contributing to my emergency fund. I'd like to have at least 8-10 months of living expenses. When I get my tax refund, that's where that money is going.

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