I have a strange sense of humor and my phone is littered with pictures of things I’ve encountered that make me laugh. This is not related to frugal living, is barely related to Fort Collins, and is not appropriate for any audiences.
I’ve totally been doing The Creep…the Lifestyle Creep. A little over a year ago, I was making about a third less than what I currently make. And somehow I am saving WAY LESS than I did while at my previous job. Yes, we bought a house and took on higher bills and a little more going to the mortgage than rent at our previous place. But where is the rest of it going?! I will tell you, my friends. It’s going to me being an idiot about spending.
It’s so easy to find an excuse to reward yourself when you’ve gotten a raise or when you feel like you work really hard. Trying not to spend on non-necessities has shown me that I have a SERIOUS lifestyle creep problem. Instead of aiming to go out for a beer, now we’ll go out for a beer and dinner. I also used to primarily eat out for breakfast, and that has turned into dinner. That’s dumb because I LOVE BREAKFAST. I don’t even want to eat dinner (that’s a lie…I love all food all the time), but given the option, I pick breakfast any day. And you know what the best part about going out for breakfast is? It’s way less expensive than dinner. We also used to have people over for brunch or game nights. Now that Andy is working nights, that doesn’t happen and we end up meeting people out at restaurants or bars. And since when do I stop at Whole Foods more than once a month, let alone 3 times a week? Oh, since I started taking the bus that leaves from the Whole Foods parking lot. I don’t need coffee. I have coffee at home. I don’t need kombucha. I have kombucha at home and it’s expensive. I also don’t need a $4 breakfast burrito that isn’t really that good anyway.
Check out this article from LearnVest about lifestyle creep.
So I’m going to combat it. I’m going to go back to doing what I do best: hosting people and eating breakfast. Meaning, I’m putting an end to the lifestyle creep. The higher bills aren’t avoidable, but I can cut other places. I started by canceling my Audible membership before they could get me one more time for this month. I even resisted the $20 coupon they offered me to stay. Look at that willpower…
Have you experienced lifestyle creep? What’d you do about it? Or did you just keep Doing the Creep?
This is apparently my year of really excellent luck. I have been MIA on the blog because I wrecked pretty hard on my bicycle last weekend and managed to fracture my ribs (most likely multiple). The very quaint trolley tracks downtown that are for a trolley that no longer runs grabbed ahold of my tire and sent me ribs-first into the curb of the median. It probably looked something like these pictures, minus my head spilling egg.
Thankfully, I wasn’t scratched up, but I did feel like I got hit by a bus. It was also like the second time EVER that I forgot to wear my helmet and I feel so fortunate that my head didn’t look like the egg head guy. WEAR YOUR HELMET!
So, besides the procurement of a new washing machine, the addition of unanticipated health related costs made me very thankful that I have an emergency fund in place.
Unanticipated costs as a result of my wreck:
It could have been much, much worse and cost much, much more and this is why it’s important to have an emergency fund in place.
I am feeling like a normal person again and the pain has localized, so I no longer feel like I got hit by a bus…or like I hit the hard concrete of a curb followed by the hard bricks of Mountain Ave., but I still have costs rolling in trying to care for myself. On the bright side, I don’t have a yoga membership for two months and I’m not drinking because I’m taking pain relievers and I am trying to heal, so that balances out a bit of the unanticipated expenses.
I’ll have to get back to you on No Spend September posts because I was out of commission for a week.
Now that we’re well into August, I thought I would discuss No Spend July. I feel like I failed while I simultaneously succeeded. It makes no sense.
On the win side, I paid off my furnace and I got my emergency fund back up to $1000, which was my first emergency fund milestone. First step, $1000. Next step, three months of expenses. Then, a fully funded emergency fund of at least six months of expenses (that feels like a decade away). I pretty much stuck to no unnecessary shopping, minus a few slips when I bought a record and kombucha out of pure frustration with my feeling of failure, and I bought two yoga tops because they were both 50% off (not an excuse).
On the fail side, I picked the month when I had told just about everyone in Fort Collins that I would grab lunch, dinner, or a beer with them. So then I kind of gave up on all things food or drink related.
I have stuck to not buying a parking permit and finding other ways to get myself to work, so that’s pretty awesome. But then my super yoga muscle hip of death and destruction hit my bike wheel while I was STANDING IN THE YARD and somehow tripped, followed by a wet grass slip, and now my bicycle is waiting at Cranknstein for a new wheel.
I feel like I failed, even though I met my goals. I didn’t meet the goal of not spending money, though, which was the whole point. I will pick a better month and try it again before the end of the year. September could be a good month to try again because we will be saving up for a Vegas trip with my parents. We go to all the hottest clubs.
By hottest clubs, I clearly mean Hoover Dam.
I will conquer this damn challenge before the end of 2014 and have an actual win. Not just a somehow I managed to save money while not succeeding at my challenge at all semi-win.
Day 1 was a complete fail. Wow. I am pretty appalled with myself, while simultaneously glad I had a really excellent day. It all started with gaining the ability to leave work to go watch the USA vs Belgium World Cup game. All American beers were half-off, and I felt like I needed to buy something to justify sitting there. That was fine. It was cheap (5 bucks for 2 IPAs!) and fit within the rules. Then the social side of me took over. I was in the mood to hang out, so I skipped yoga and decided to have another beer on the patio with some friends and a certain pseudo-celebrity from Fort Collins. Double fail. Then I got an invitation to go see Obvious Child, which I was hellbent on seeing before self-punishment month and never made it. I laughed, I cried, I spent $15 at the Lyric. Fail. But totally worth it and go see it immediately because it was SO GOOD. Then I went home and ATE ALL THE LEFTOVERS. ALL of them. Like 3 meals worth. FAIL. Woke up with a very deserved stomach ache this morning. So, I’m taking a mulligan and recommitting today and ending after August 1. Let’s pretend yesterday never happened and I will use this as a learning opportunity. Fact: if you fail so hard on day 1, you will feel like an idiot and have to blog about it. SO DON’T FAIL ANYMORE.
Update: I did succeed up until about 3:30 pm in eating very healthy and following my rules for wellness and frugality. I rode my bike to work, I made healthy eating choices, I drank all my weird health drinks. So only half the day was a complete and utter failure. I am also noticing that pedaling my bike on the hardest gear is becoming remarkably easy.
Frugal in FoCo pro tips
Look for the best drink specials during sporting events when deciding where to watch. Fort Collins is home to some incredible craft breweries, and bars will often offer great deals on craft beers during special events. I recommend following your favorite local watering holes on Facebook to keep up with specials.
The Lyric Cinema Cafe is a gem that I’m more willing to spend money on than regular movie theatres. They show indie films and sell excellent food, beer, and wine, so it feels more special than a regular outing to the movies. If you can’t live without popcorn, they have the best ever. EVER. If you want to lessen the costs of your movie-going experiences, check-in for specials on Foursquare, buy a membership, go to a matinee, or use a student ID (especially on Tuesdays).
If you prefer to see blockbusters, there are two awesome ways to go for cheap in FoCo. Cinema Saver Six shows second-run movies for dirt cheap. You might have to wait a little longer to see it, but you’re basically getting the theatre experience for almost the price of a rental. The other option is Carmike 10. It’s located near the MAX line, so no need to drive if you don’t want to. They do Stimulus Tuesdays where all movie tickets are $5.50, and they have concessions specials. Every day from 4:00-5:30 pm they have “Super Bargain” tickets for $5.75. They also offer a rewards program. Andy and I have gotten free movie tickets by racking up rewards on Stimulus Tuesdays or during the Super Bargain times to get the most bang for our buck.