Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Swapping Over Shopping

I think I’ll finally be able to write an article about Makeup Alley. I’ve actually known about the site for years and used it once in high school. I know of many users who use the site as a sort of online store and I think I’m going to work that angle in my article.

I encourage all my readers, especially those interested in health and beauty, to check the site out. It’s a great community! If you’ve got makeup and other beauty products to swap, post them. There might be a few takers.

Also, check out the product reviews section. It’s a hidden gem! Once you start reading it, you’ll never buy a beauty product again without consulting the Makeup Alley Product Reviews. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I’m Giving Up Coffee, Well Buying It Anyway

Still no money spent this week. Whenever I pass a newsstand, eatery or department store I think about how far I’ve come and somehow manage to resist. Since I have to pass through Soho to get to my apartment in Tribeca, I’ve stopped walking down Broadway. Too many shops, too much temptation

I’ve checked my receipts and my average weekly grocery spending is about $18 and I spend about $10 at drug stores and on coffee. So, I’ve saved almost thirty dollars this week. This is of course an experiment and I will still need to buy groceries and the appropriate toiletries, but I guestimate that I can reasonably save about $5+ a week/$20+ a month if I cut out extraneous coffee and breakfast muffin purchases. A step in the right direction, no? Coffeemaker, here I come!

Also, I remembered researching this site for an article that I did for a journalism class last year. It’s called Free NYC. Who knew there was so much to do for free in the city? With the high cost of living, I guess something’s got to give…and free is, after all, my favorite price.

Money Spent Today: $0

Photo: clippernolan.wordpress.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Goodbye Spending, Hello Meal Plan

Since I’m crazy, I decided that starting on Sunday night, I wasn’t going to spend any money this week. So far not a penny spent, but it’s getting harder. Sometimes I don’t have time to make my meals, but I have a university meal plan and I’ve been taking advantage of that sucker like you wouldn’t believe. I’ll pick up lunch, dinner and dessert in one go and store it in my fridge for future consumption.

Sadly, however, meal plan money does run out so this is only a temporary endeavor. Really, I just want to see if can not shop for a week. It it weird that I’m simultaneously optimistic and skeptical about the prospect?

Money spent today: $0

Photo: nutritionaustralia.org

Friday, September 19, 2008

Do You Hulu?

This afternoon, as I waited in line after one of my weekly Duane Reade excursions, I came across one of the deadly "front-of-the-store displays." You know, they usually have magazines, candy or "other things that you didn’t know you needed, but now that I’m here, I’m like s*** I do need tweezers" (my apologies, but my roommate quotes Dane Cook every other second and now she’s got me doing it too). Let it be known, I don’t think he’s hilarious, but he has his moments…

But I digress. The point of this story was that I had been in the mood for a creepy scary, thriller, Sci-Fi movie to watch and there at the display were 15 or so said films at a discounted price of 2 for $10. I grappled with the pros and cons of purchasing them. On the one hand, they had a few titles that I’d been dying to see and since I left all of my DVDs at home (brilliant!) I did really want some entertainment. On the other hand, I didn’t need them and in the end left the store with my applesauce and tortilla chips and no scary DVDs.

Cut to later on in the evening. I’m watching some clips on Hulu.com and notice that they’ve got a movies section. I assumed that the options would be limited, but no. They had tons of titles, including “When A Stranger Calls,” which I almost purchased earlier on in the day (don’t judge me!).

The moral of the story, don’t spend unnecessarily, even in the event of a sale because there just might be a cheaper option. In this case cheaper meant free, but you get the point.

Amount saved today $10 + tax

Photo: weblogs.newsday.com

Monday, September 15, 2008

Put Down the Credit Card

“I was just supposed to just pass by the Gap, maybe sneak a glance at the window display,” you think to yourself. “What happened?” you wonder as you patiently wait in the line you never intended to wait in holding sweater you never intended to buy. As the line shortens and the sales associate signals for you to approach the register, you panic. You can’t just leave the sweater now, you need it, but you don’t have an extra $50 lying around in your wallet. “No problem,” you think to yourself as you reach into your bag and pull out your shiny gold credit card. “I’ll just charge it.”

It’s the oldest story in the book. Buy now pay later, but at what price? Well, the youth of Generation Y are finding out. Plagued with credit card debt, Generation Yers, on average, owe about $8,200 in credit card debt according to an article by Emma Johnson of MSN Money. The same article estimates that the average college debt is $20,000 and this number is increasing. So why are Gen Yers in so much debt? For starters, there’s Gen Y’s growing reliance on credit cards.

In this fast-paced age where one’s entire life can fit on a microchip the size of a thumbnail, convenience is not an option, it is a necessity. The impatient Gen Yer wants what he wants now, end of story. Credit cards undoubtedly appeal to this immediate urge to have. With a single swipe, any transaction is completed. There’s no messy change to be returned or awkward small talk to be made with the cashier. Yet, as is their habit with most of life's conveniences, like mommy and daddy's money, Gen Yers cannot seem to let go of their plastic enablers.

But what are Gen Yers spending all of their money on? According to a 2006 consumer expenditure survey by the Bureau of Labor statistics, Gen Yers made an average of $29,057 a year before taxes and spent a whopping $28, 131, the largest percentage of any other age group polled. The survey also showed that Gen Y tended to spend more money on apparel and entertainment for themselves and less on things like healthcare and gifts for others. Additionally, of all the age groups polled, Gen Y spent the highest percentage of their income on education (bls.gov).

Perhaps a reason behind the generation’s debt problem is that Gen Yers do not see themselves as financially established at their young age. More often than not, Gen Yers figure that they have their whole lives ahead of them and have plenty of time to pay off their debts. What they tend to neglect, however, are the high interest rates that accumulate over time with most credit cards.

Yet even with high interest rates and mountains of debt, many Gen years continue to assume that if they can’t pay their credit card bills, their parents will bail them out. It is this dependent attitude that is damaging. When Gen Yers take this easy way out, no lesson is learned and the vicious cycle of debt will repeat itself over and over again and eventually they’ll have to pay it back themselves. There is, however, a way to stop the cycle before it gets out of hand. The first step: put down the credit card.

ABC News’ Consumer Correspondent Elisabeth Leamy proposes an
unusual option for those who want to keep at least one extra card around for emergencies but don’t want to be tempted to use it. Her recommendation: freeze your credit card, literally. “Cut up all but one credit card,” she writes. “Then take the lone survivor and drop it in a Tupperware container full of water. Pop the container in the freezer and put your credit card spending on ice! That way you'll have to think about it for several hours if you want to use the card” (abcnews.go.com).

Another option is to use good old-fashioned cash. The limited supply of money forces one to spend only what he has and not a cent more. For emergencies, a debit card may be used. It works just like a credit card, only the money spent is not borrowed, it’s yours. Generally, impulse purchases are not dire enough or large enough to warrant using credit cards, so they can be left at home.

Credit card debt can be overwhelming, but it cannot be left alone. It would be nice to pay off an $8,000 debt at once, but that, of course, is an unrealistic solution. Instead, simply step away from the credit card and examine your spending habits. Instead of racking up debt, pay it off. Once you take responsibility for your spending, you can find your way back to financial freedom.

Currently in credit card debt and want to get out? Check out these sites:abcnews.go.com
Washington Post

How do you spend? How about your parents? BLS Survey

She paid off her college loans. Find out how she did it:
Fabulously Broke in the City

Photo credit: pobeptsworld.wordpress.com

Friday, September 12, 2008


If I'm not tired, I'm hungry and I usually get really cranky when either one gets the best of me. Also, I find that my most of my actions are driven by emotion, meaning that when I'm tired, I buy coffee, when I'm hungry I spend $8 on a salad (noy very budget friendly). So today I set a goal not to spend any money on meals and guess what: I DID IT!

Breakfast: Coffee and Fruit
Lunch: The best salad I think I've ever made
Dinner: Spinach Lasagna (prepackaged, I'm not that kitchen savvy)
Dessert: Strawberries and Nutella (yum)

...and in case hunger hit in transit, the 5 y/o in me packed a snack of Cheerios.

All food: courtesy of my pantry and fridge.

On average I saved about $9.50. And best of all, it wasn't that hard. The only "cooking" involed was boiling some penne for the salad.

The moral of the story: Homemade meals save money. Who knew?

100 Thing Challenge

A classmate of mine turned me on to an emerging movement called "The 100 Thing Clallenge." Yes, 100 Thing, there's no s at the end. The idea behind the movement is to cut down one's posessions to a mere one hundred items in order to cut down on clutter and eliminate the desire for "stuff," among other benefits. Think about it, the less stuff you can own, the less you can buy. It's an ambitious lifestyle choice to say the least.

A cool time article in the movement can be found here.

Interesting, but not for me. My spending isn't so bad that I must resprt to such measures...yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grocery Shopping at Trader Joes

Who doesn't love Trader Joe's? Amazing selection of delicious healthy and organic food? Yes please.

I've been living off of the cans of soup and tuna that I brought with me when I moved into my dorm a few weeks ago (sickening, I know) so I finally got it together and did some groceries.

The List:

Insulated Bag
(bought this because I forgot my own reusable) $1.99
Canned Mangoes (x2) $1.98
EVOO (darn you Rachael Ray!) $4.99
Canned Sliced Black Olives
(x2) $2.38
Mango Ginger Chuthey $2.29
Organic Brown Rice Bowls (x4)$6.76
Raspberry Salad Dressing $1.99
Dried Pruned $2.49
Seafood Seasoning $1.99
Papaya Enzyme Tablets $2.49
21 Spice Blend Seasoning $1.99
Grapes $2.99
Baby Bella Mushrooms $1.99
Strawberries $2.99
Sliced Apple Snack $2.29
Green Peppers $2.19
Pita Bread $1.29
Organic Baby Lettuce $2.69

Total: $47.77
Tax: $0.17

Grand Total: $47.97

Not too interesting, but hey it's what I spent.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another Budget Blog...

To be perfectly honest, the original purpose of this blog was to fulfill a class assignment. My classmates and I were asked to start a blog, which was to be updated regularly, as part of our beat reporting class. Having started a fashion and lifestyle blog of my own in January, I've learned (mostly through lots of trial and error and hours spent in front of my laptop) both how time consuming blogging can be aand how essential blogging is.

Since starting Coffee over Conversation in January, I've used my blog to network, procrastinate and, most importantly, master the art of train of thought writing. I'm kidding, of course, or at least I think I am...but enough about C/C.

The topic at hand here is this blog, Another Budget Blog, which, ironically, is not just another budget blog. *Note: This is not so much clever, as it is sort of lame, but I'm ok with that.* The premise of this blog is a rather selfish one. You see, I have a bit of a spending problem (understatement). I'm not up to my ears in debt, but I could stand to be a bit more thrifty. With the help of this blog I hope to gain a greater understanding of why my generation and me (...and I?) spend the way we do?

You all can look forward to saving tips, a breakdown of the spending habits of an average NYU student (me) and a few articles. Be excited. I am.