No Spend September: Days 14-20

The week of the 14th through the 20th was spent trying to track down refunds for poisonous dog food, doing yoga, and trying to avoid giving in to wants.

Successes: Wednesday & Friday were entirely No Spend Days!

I also got a refund from Amazon for the dog food and a sincere apology that my dogs were ill from it.

Overall, I stayed under my weekly spending goal, which includes any “flexible” spending–so anything not a bill. Besides my “challenges” I only spent money on groceries and ended up with money to roll over to the next week.  Considering what I’m about to list in my challenges, that’s a pretty great success.

Challenges: Once a year, the CSU Bookstore sends out 40% off coupons for one green “professional wear” shirt to all of the employees.  You have to present your coupon with your name on it and your campus ID and it must be green, something you can wear to work, and not a jacket.   Fridays are “Get Your Green On” days so most employees wear their CSU gear on these days.  OF COURSE the coupon came during No Spend September.  Because this is my one yearly shot at a discount for something I will put into the rotation of three shirts I can wear on Fridays, I bought a shirt for $37.  It is Under Armour and I did not buy the really expensive vest that I REALLY wanted.  This is my compromise and I’m content with it.

I bought the new Youth Lagoon record from Vinyl Me, Please because it was on sale for like a day and was a special edition.  I’ve listened to it about 100 times (probably not an exaggeration) since so WORTH IT.

I bought a Pizza of the Week from Krazy Karl’s (whatever large specialty pizza they are promoting for the week for $8 instead of normally $13) because I didn’t have time to cook between work and yoga so I got carry out (no delivery fee or tip) and picked it up on my way home from work.  I learned my lesson on why adults should avoid Campus West while school is in session.

I made the mistake of stopping at Arc after yoga one day.  I found a Fiestaware mug in a discontinued color because I have the best Fiestaware karma ever, a mirror for our mirror wall (wood frame!!!), and a Pendleton wool blazer that will be gifted to my aunt.  I spent $30.

This is our mirror wall, plus Cowboy Andy on Tour de Fat day.

This is the only picture I have of our mirror wall, so you get a bonus Cowboy Andy with a Genessee and coffee on Tour de Fat day.

Could have been worse.  Could have been better.  Not shopping is hard.

No Spend September: Days 8-13

After a successful and fun-filled Labor Day Weekend, I started the next week by embarking on my yoga teacher training journey.  It’s pretty hard to spend money when you’re booked for 11 hours a week in class, plus an additional minimum of 3 hours of yoga practice.

Day 8: $13 on groceries.  First day of training and we jumped right into learning the flow we’ll be teaching.

Day 9: A day of moderate weakness.  I used a BOGO coupon to get us dinner at Qdoba because I just could not fathom cooking because I was sick, Banjo was sick, and everything was too much.  Dinner was $9 total.  I probably would have spent more making the same things at the grocery store.  Weakness continued when I invested $136 into yoga props during an extra 40% off sale at Sierra Trading Post.  They don’t frequently have Manduka (an excellent, quality brand) props, so I got 3 types of bolsters, a wool blanket, and a hot yoga towel for the cost of one of the large bolsters.  I will need all of these props if I ever teach yoga lessons, so I’m calling it a business expense.  Shouldn’t have done it, but I regret nothing.

Day 10: No Spend Day!  I stayed home sick from work again.  Second day of teacher training and we were already teaching each other, which was exciting but I felt awful.  I earned $4.38 in interest and got a $3 ATM fee refund.

Day 11: Spent $25 on groceries/meds/remedies to make me and Banjo feel better.  Poor Banjo was the saddest little pup I’ve ever seen.  We cuddled all day.  I gave him a coconut oil bath and he didn’t even fight it, which is very un-Banjo.

The saddest, itchiest dog in the world

The saddest, itchiest dog in the world

Day 12: UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  We realized the dogs were all having negative reactions to their new food.  Banjo scratched sores into his belly, his eye was swollen shut, and he licked his snout raw.  The other two were a little itchy, but were losing hair and that’s when we realized that it had to be the food, which was the only thing that had changed for all of them during the week.  When I woke up and Banjo looked so miserable, I called the vet and got him an appointment for that morning.  I spent $68 on a bag of their previous food and some treats that he could eat without an allergic reaction (the damn dog is allergic to chicken).

We went to the vet and after $280, a two week course of antibiotics, a steroid/antihistamine combo with complicated instructions, an anti-itch shampoo, an omega 3 supplement specifically for allergies, a probiotic that had better be made of bacteria that poop gold because it was $30 for a box, and instructions to make a coconut oil/turmeric/milk thistle mixture, Banjo is finally feeling better.  Thanks to my emergency fund for being able to handle unexpected vet visits.

2015-09-11 17.51.59

He was torn between hating us and appreciating our efforts to protect him from himself.

Later we went to a 70s party and I drank lavender soda, which I shouldn’t have purchased but it kept my mind off beer.  I got to feel fancy for a hot second.

Day 13: NO SPEND DAY!  Because Banjo and I were too exhausted to leave the house or do anything.

A huge thank you to Dr. Kelly Keeny and Mulnix Animal Clinic, and a huge not-thank you to Taste of the Wild for trying to kill my dogs.

Savings on Food, part 2: How to get free food and drinks

I like going out to eat sometimes.Some quick tips for free food and drinks:

  • Sign up for the Human Bean’s V.I.B. Club.  You’ll get a free welcome drink and coupons in your email.
  • Get a Qdoba Rewards card.  For every 10 entrees (or 5 if you take advantage of double points days on Wednesdays), you earn a free entree.  They also frequently send email coupons for BOGO meals or will add free chips and salsa/guac/queso to your card.
  • Tokyo Joe’s has a rewards club too.  They send a monthly newsletter with deals for Addict Club members and you can earn points towards free entrees.  They also give you a free meal on your half-birthday.
  • Other places with rewards: Sonny Lubick’s Steakhouse, Garbanzo, The Rio 
  • Check out giveaways for national “holidays.”  I got free coffee from the Human Bean yesterday for National Coffee Day, and main other chains were doing giveaways as well.  If you hear of some holiday related to food, chances are someone is giving away something for free.
  • Grab coupon books and open your Valpak, or look online for local coupons.  There are lots of BOGO deals or significant discounts for restaurants, even some locally owned ones.  Always Google before you pay!
  • Sign up for birthday deals!  Lots of places do birthday giveaways, like Larkburger, if you sign up for their email list.
  • Use a student ID for discounts/freebies if you are lucky enough to have one.  Same for senior discounts.  If you are old enough to qualify, take advantage of that shiz!
  • Spin every wheel, enter every drawing, and participate in every free contest you can.  I won a free pound of ground fresh ground coffee and a reusable mug the other day by spinning a wheel at a festival.  No commitment by me, but a pretty great payout.
  • Go out with friends and “forget” your wallet.  Just kidding, don’t do that.

 

No Spend September: Days 5-7, Labor Day weekend

Labor Day Weekend would normally cost probably at least $100.  I should look back at Mint and compare this LDW with the last two.

Day 5 was a NO SPEND DAY, despite the hullabaloo.  It was Tour de Fat, aka the biggest holiday in Fort Collins.  We hosted a breakfast at our house before the bike parade.  We provided eggs and bacon (already in our fridge) and then we had everyone bring an item, potluck style.  I went as a “Golden Girl” because I was a girl in all gold.  I already owned the gold leggings, gold skirt, gold shoes, gold belt, and gold jewelry, and then I borrowed gold makeup and a gold shirt.

STAND BY FOR PICTURE…I only took photos with my polaroid that weekend.  Cool, but not convenient.

After breakfast we biked to the parade and then made the mistake of going to the festival.  I end up at the festival every year, and I mostly hate it every year because it is full of half-naked drunk folk and their children.  The only redeeming part of the festival was the Honeymoon Cabaret show we happened upon in a secretive sideshow tent labeled “Le Tigre.”   I can’t even describe what we witnessed in that tent.  It involved a dress made out of fake (hopefully?) hair and pasties that looked like chewed gum.  HORRIFYING, but worth it.

It was quite nice to not be tempted by beer because a) it saved me probably a good deal of money and b) I didn’t have to stand in any lines!  I had a massage scheduled for later in the day (I have a membership so this is a regular part of my budget) and it was totally worth it to show up and not have her chastise me for being dehydrated.

My Tour de Fat survival tips:

  • Costumes don’t need to make sense so use what you have.
  • Watch the parade, don’t ride in it.  It is slow and you will probably fall down or get mad.
  • Avoid the festival and having to park your bike because you’re gonna have a bad time, unless you love challenges and huge groups of people, and/or you hate yourself.
  • Get everyone together beforehand because you’ll lose them immediately when you get downtown.
  • Basically, dress up, watch the parade from the south side of the route, and then leave immediately.

On Day 6, we went to see Built to Spill and Lucero at Red Rocks.  We had tickets prior to No Spend September so we didn’t have to pay for those.  We normally buy dinner on the way to Red Rocks or eat at the venue, but instead we got everyone to leave early and we took our portable grill so we could have a cookout.  I spent $10 at King Soopers for stuff to grill and a case of sparkling water (this covered both me and Andy’s meals) and filled my car up with gas ($26).

The show was excellent.  The company was excellent.  It was a beautiful way to end the summer.  And then we drove home and the peanut gallery in the back spent most of the time telling me how My Brother, My Brother, and Me sucks and he could make a much better podcast.  FYI, MBMBaM does not suck and it’s hilarious so listen to it.

The crew of the new podcast "Drunk Jerrod Hates Everything"

The crew of the new podcast “Drunk Jerrod Hates Everything”

Day 7 was spent resting and grilling.  It was also a NO SPEND DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Total spent on Labor Day Weekend: $36

Total fun had: All of it

Total number of beards in our group at Red Rocks: Five–three very full beards attached to glasses, one that hates everything, and one who shares my love of pop music.

 

No Spend September: Days 3 & 4

It’s been a few days, but I’m still holding strong!  Here is the update for September 3 & 4.  On Thursday, I had a lunch date scheduled prior to deciding to do No Spend September with a friend I haven’t seen in almost a year.  I was not going to miss the opportunity to catch up with her at one of the only times we were able to find to get together, so I called this a “need” and did what I could to minimize my spending on lunch.  We went to Rise! A Breakfast Place because it’s “our place.” I had the Rajas & Eggs because it is a) one of the lowest price entrees on their menu, and b) it’s soooooooooo good.  I would normally order coffee, but I stuck with water because coffee easily tacks on $3-4 once tax and tip are factored in.  I spent $10 total on brunch.

HOWEVER!!!!  I countered this spending by doing a mystery shop at a convenience store after work.  I signed up to start mystery shopping through IntelliShop last year.  I only do the ones that are worth it to me–they don’t take a lot of time or effort, don’t require negotiating (so all auto shops are out) or a ton of lying, and pay well.  I end up making about $20-30 every couple of months for minimal effort.  For Thursday’s shop, I went to a convenience store to check out the bathroom, gas pumps, and hot food/coffee area.  It basically involved inconspicuously snapping a couple of photos, purchasing a beverage, and then spending less than five minutes writing a report on what happened.  I was paid $10 for the shop and $2 to reimburse the energy drink I bought.  It canceled out what I spent on brunch.

Spent: $10 on brunch, $2 on the mystery shop.  $12 total

Earned: $12

Friday was also a success in my book.  I am involved in an international women’s social, cultural, and service organization called Beta Sigma Phi.  We have “secret sisters” each year that we give gifts to at each of our monthly meetings.  It’s fun and a nice little pick-me-up each month.  This is a “need” because it’s a requirement for each month, but I still wanted to get the most bang for my buck.  Sierra Trading Post had a coupon for an extra 40% off on Friday and I bought two months worth of secret sister gifts for $15 (we have a $10 threshold for each gift) and saved $28 off of original prices.  I shop at STP for my secret sister because I can use coupons and their existing discounts to get really nice, good quality gifts for not a lot of money.  I can’t go into detail because there is a good chance she’d read this and figure out I’m her secret sister.  Trust me, they are great gifts.  I was slightly tempted to shop for yoga stuff with the coupon, but I didn’t allow myself to even look at what was available.

Frugal in Fort Collins Rules for Shopping at Sierra Trading Post

  1. Always use a coupon.  (Sign up for the emails, follow on Facebook, and check coupon sites to find coupons.)
  2. Only shop when that coupon is a minimum of an extra 35% off (that happens like once a week at least).
  3. If you can’t find free shipping, ship to the store because it’s free!

We had two birthday parties to attend on Friday night.  I was a little worried that I would be tempted to have a beer or spend money, but I held strong!!!  I started at a 30th birthday party for a lovely friend who is my hair twin and personal finance blog soulmate.  She was an excellent hostess and offered me sparkling water instead of beer, and I shut down all the enablers (you know who you are).  The second birthday was a 40th birthday celebration at a brewery.  Breweries all have self-serve water so I hydrated like nobody’s business.  Then we went to the Mayor of Old Town.  THIS IS WHERE THINGS GOT HARD.  There is a gose from WeldWerks Brewing Co. in Greeley that is unbelievably delicious and of course it was on tap.  They also had Pliny the Elder on tap, which is basically beer perfection.  I stuck to club soda and smelled Andy’s beers for my flavor fix.  We headed home early so we could get ready for the Fort’s biggest holiday: TOUR DE FAT!!!  Stay tuned for the Tour de Fat post.  It involves a Golden Girl and a burlesque dancer in a hair dress so you don’t want to miss it.

Spent: $15 on gifts

No Spend September: Day 2

Another successful day on the mission to only spend on Needs for a month.

I walked to the Max to get to work and had several meetings that filled up my day.  Our office provides coffee so when I can’t get coffee at home, I can get it at work.  I ate leftover roasted red pepper and tomato bisque for lunch because Andy ate the spaghetti with meat sauce I was dying to eat.  The sacrifices we make for love…

After cleaning out the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, I realized I HAD to go grocery shopping.  I initially thought I was only going to get a couple of things, but I ended up stocking up so that we would be able to eat for a minimum of two weeks.  For tips on how I shop for maximum savings with maximum sanity, see Saving on Food, Part 1: Groceries.

For dinner, I was inspired by this post on Smitten Kitchen:

I cubed a large cucumber, a ripe avocado, and two heirloom tomatoes and mixed them with a large dollop of plain nonfat Greek yogurt.  I stirred in a little of a dill dip mix that Andy found at the farmer’s market.  Then I chilled it for a couple of hours in the fridge and let the flavors meld.  OMFG, this salad is a game changer!  Andy and I agreed that it would need to become a constant in our fridge.

Because we can’t live on salad alone, I also made a pizza with whole wheat crust (the kind in a tube because ain’t nobody got time for homemade crust on a weeknight), heirloom tomato slices instead of sauce, a generous sprinkling of basil, fresh mozzarella (thanks, half-price manager special!), some shaved parmesan, sliced uncured jalapeno cheddar bratwurst (again, thanks, half-price manager special!), and some artichoke antipasto from Trader Joe’s.  Andy said, and I quote, “This has to be one of the best pizzas you’ve ever made, and it’s not like your other pizzas aren’t great.”  I would call that a win.  Unfortunately, I don’t have photo documentation of the pizza, so I’ll just have to make it again.

We play Geeks Who Drink on Wednesdays so that was an activity where I knew there would be some temptation to spend money.  The whole reason bars and restaurants do Geeks Who Drink is to bring in people who are going to spend money on a normally slow night.  I usually try to order either a beer or an appetizer or something, but I stuck with club soda.  I like the carbonation and taste, and it’s hydrating.  If no one at our table had been purchasing food or drinks, I would have felt bad about not buying anything and taking up space at the restaurant.  However, we’re there every week, Andy tipped extra for the service I received, and the other five people at our table ordered food and at least two drinks each.  As soon as No Spend September is done, I’ll resume buying something during trivia because I like to support local business, but for now I’m sticking to the goal at hand.  Bonus: I won a beer so I can use that to save some $$$ when teacher training is done!  And our team won by 10 points!

Day 2 verdict: Success!

Spending: $153 on groceries, and I only used my car to go to the grocery store.

Income: $.60 interest income

 

 

No Spend September: Day 1

No Spend September is underway!  So far, so good, as I had a day completely free of spending (bills don’t count as spending).

How did I get through the day without spending?  Here’s an overview of my day, my temptations, and my successes.

I got to work around 7:15 am and was in meetings from 8:00 am-5:00 pm with no breaks.  Can’t spend money if you don’t have a free moment!  I didn’t even think about things that are normally tempting me during the work day, like a delicious Consuelo’s Spanish omelet burrito.

No photo available of a Consuelo's burrito because they never last longer than a minute in my possession.

No photo available of a Consuelo’s burrito because they never last longer than a minute in my possession.

We had a working lunch at Rainbow, where I ate the peanut cashew vegetables with tempeh along with a tomato bisque because that’s a normal combination… whatever.  The food was delicious.  Thanks for buying me lunch, CSU!

I got home around 5:30 pm too exhausted to move.  I may have crowded my way onto the bus by pretending I couldn’t hear the driver say they were at capacity because there was no way I was going to wait for the next bus.  Andy was brewing a barleywine for 6 hours last night (…) so I had the house to myself.  I wanted to cook dinner but all of my creative energy was sapped.  This is when I REALLY wanted to order a pizza.  Like so bad.  SO BAD.  But instead, I ate some hummus and tortilla chips to replenish my energy stores, watched a few episodes of The League, and then mustered up the ability to make…wait for it…tomato bisque because evidently I just can’t get enough.  By “make,” I mean I took a carton of roasted red pepper and tomato bisque (see! it was different…I’m not a soup addicted weirdo), cut up an heirloom tomato, fresh basil leaves, and some leftover tofu I needed to use, and heated it all in a pan.  It did the job and didn’t require a trip to the grocery store.

If you aren’t watching The League yet, someone should probably “take care” of you.

I worked on cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry while my soup was cooking.  I added any hot sauce that was nearly out to my soup and threw out anything past its prime or questionable.  I will probably have to make a grocery trip soon, but I now know exactly what I have in reserves so I can work on planning meals and making a “needs” list.  No rando “want” food purchases during this experiment.

Other temptations I avoided: a TOMS shoe sale, a Sierra Trading Post sale, the idea of owning a yoga bolster and wanting to make that an immediate reality, and a yearning for avocado because we were out.

“Saved”: I could have easily spent around $200 on my Wants.  I didn’t drive anywhere by walking and riding the Max, so I saved on gas and car wear-and-tear.

Income: $1.77 in interest and two found pennies.