Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recessionista....I like it!

As the current economic state of our country has been on the kind of has started to turn that way with my personal finances as well. With buying a new house, stashing away as much cash as I can (that doesn't go into home improvement) for a wedding in April, and all the other fun things life brings our way- like cars randomly breaking down...sounds like this is one that Adam and Emily can relate to :(-- this month I have been strapped for cash on spending money on those little extras. I only get paid once a month--and pay day is tomorrow, thank goodness!-- so this week I literally had pennies to spend.

Anyways, as I was constantly making sure my check register was up-to-date with my online banking this week, treat day was approaching. This took place at work today. I sent out the email that we were hosting one in celebration of my bosses birthday (Friday) and my friend in Loss Prevention (Sharon) her birthday on Saturday. I LOVE treat days. But now I needed a treat to bring, and going to the grocery store to swipe my debit card was not an option as I was literally at rock bottom.

So instead of quickly running to the grocery store, I did something extraordinary. Searched my pantry, freezers and fridges. The way I shop at CostCo...I figured, I have to have something to take. And I found it, some guacamole (the delicious kind) that I buy in three containers and freeze until I want to use it- otherwise it turns brown. Then I had some lime chips I bought at CostCo a while back that were only 1/4 eaten. Salty treat, done.

Frozen guacamole placed in freezer overnight = $0

3/4 full bag of lime chips = $0

Now that was out of the way, I also wanted to make something sweet and in the "season". Something Halloweeny? I got forwarded this awesome email that had all these ideas from Pilsbury, however that would require me to buy all new ingredient. Nope. My mind started going. What do I have in my pantry? I have lots of baking stuff, but not enough to make a full batch of cookies. I had it. Get a box of the funfetti cake mix, make cookies with them (Amy LaBounty style) and make my own powdered sugar frosting...then dye it orange and stick a little spot of green sprinkles on the top to look like a pumpkin. So I headed to Hy-Vee, ran in and grabbed just the cake mix. Even though there were several things on sale that I was like "ah, I should get that and save it in the freezer", I restrained myself. I was on a tight budget. Went to the cashier...I had been out of cash since Tuesday. So I paid with change :) It was only $1.37, but better with change then on my debit card.

Cake Mix: $1.37

Then back at my house, whipped the cake mix into cookie dough, popped them in the oven, whipped up some powdered sugar frosting, let teh cookies cool, frosted them, sprinkled them and wa-lah! :) Pumpkin cookies for all, a mere $1.37.

Aren't they nice? They were SOOOOO yummy too. I have some left- if they make it to Friday I'll take it on the carpool on the way to Manhattan!

But overall, the point of this post was only half to show you just how creative I am in the kitchen (yeah right), but to get to the point that if I wouldn't have been ever so consciously watching my check book and counting every single penny, I can guarantee you when I ran into the grocery store I would have walked out with $50 of stuff that I could justify as "needing" for the treat day treats. Now how unnecessary is that and how wasteful when I had wonderful things sitting in my cabinets and freezer to take along that I bet I had purchased just for an event such as this. It made me realize- while I feel like I'm relatively good at watching what I spend and where it goes to, that every time I think I "need" something or make a Target run and come back with $50+ of "needs"....if I took 5 minutes before I set off on my shopping adventure, while making my list, to really think of these 2 things:
A) Do I really NEED these things on the list, as in need for survival? (great example of this would be coffee. Yes, I NEED coffee in the morning, 3.5 cups to survive. So when that's on my list, it's an automatic "YES")
B) Is there anything that I want to buy that I might have sitting at my house/in my cabinets/in my freezer, fridge?
Maybe I'll start making a code on my shopping lists. "W" for want, and"N" for need. That would be fast, simple and easy---and work well for a visual person like me. But the bottom line is, in this time of our lives, while spending is so fun and easy at times---where are places you can cut back and be saving for a rainy day (aka $400 car repair bills that are unexpected)?? Also, not to pull in my finance mindset in, but right now in our lives (24-26) is PRIME time to start putting as much as you can in a retirement fund, outside of your work 401K. Start a Roth IRA!! Do it, do it!! The more you get in now, the more years it has to build up, and the more $$ you have when you're ready to quit the working world.
Anyways, just my 2 cents, but also wanted to share the stark realization that taking a few minutes to determine what is a want vs. a need can end up saving you some serious dough in the long run. I think I'll start embracing this new word that has emerged into the English language: recessionista. Why not? Feel free to share any money saving tips you have also. It's always nice to hear how others are saving!!

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