Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How to save Money

So from the last post it may seem that we are pretty destitute. I needed to blow off some steam and decided to write it down so as to not give the impression that it is all roses here. So I decided to talk about some of the changes that we have made in our lives as part of being grad students to try to save money-

  • Got rid of our TV: no cable bill, which really makes sense since we really don't have time to watch anything. We have discovered that we enjoy about 10 minutes of watching something while we decompress from coming home from school or are eating. We have been watching free video podcasts and clips from the comedy central/daily show website for those needs. We also still watch DVDs on our computer.

  • Living Upstairs: I feel bad for the people that live below us, we get all their heat for free. All the heat here is produced by what look like little space heaters built into the wall so I am sure it is expensive. For the whole winter we had to turn on our heaters maybe 10 times, where as I could hear our downstairs neighbor's going 5-7 days a week.

  • energy conservation: To extend the above item, we made sure that as many light bulbs as possible are the compact florescent, and sealed up air cracks under the door.

  • No restaurants: Since getting here we have eaten at a restaurant twice (L.'s Birthday, and while in Florence.) This has been the biggest change for us since we were used to going out on a date once a week. Even eating fast-food is only about 5% of the time. I think we are much healthier for it too.

  • cheap movies: We do have to do something for entertainment and there is a $1.50 theater nearby. Since coming back from Europe we were already behind movie releases by about 2 months so we went the dollar theater to catch up with the movies we wanted to see, and just have tried to make it a rule to wait for the movies to come there. As far as renting movies, our local library has a huge selection of them that are free to check out. We have been getting a lot of TV shows that way too.

  • no traveling: This is the one that is the hardest for me. I'm glad we had the travel voucher for that trip to New York to make an exception to this rule. Living in California we used to take a weekend off and travel up the coast, or down to San Diego. I know this was one of our highest expenses but it was also the quick decompress needed for working and school at the same time. Once I go back to full time this is one rule I will be happy to be rid of.

  • no flight lessons: When I stopped to try to save money for our trip to Europe it was right before my first solo trip. Thinking I would start up again when we got back I did not solo. Now with the lessons on indefinite hold I wish I had. This is another one that I will pick up as soon as possible again as it was really one of the funnest things I ever did, but at $100 a week a little of the question while in grad school.

  • No school parking pass: At $160 it is not cheap, I think I get to school faster on my bike since I do not have to look for a parking spot (However there were a few times that all the bike racks were full and I waited for someone to leave- yes there are that many people on bikes here.)

  • Thrift store shopping: Its a good place to buy things like a laser printer and other small electronics.


Ways that we are still splurging-

  • Car: We really don't HAVE to have one, I usually travel by bike. but it makes our life a lot easier to get groceries, going to the movies.

  • new computer: our 6 year old computer finally just was not pulling it's weight anymore. They had a sale at the school bookstore trying to get rid of the old computers so I bought a mac mini for $399. I realized that this was the first computer I had bought new. Kind of funny since I am almost half way done with getting my Masters degree in computer science.

  • fish: the most expensive fish we bought was $12, its all the other stuff. I thought we already had everything we needed but we had to buy rocks to hide in, new plants, and ended up buying a whole separate tank for all the snails and shrimp to live in.

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