Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday update

**warning--this is going to be very disjointed!!

No Credit Needed realized that he'll save $350 a year by not drinking soda. I think his original post might have been the one that made me realize I need to quit drinking so much soda, too, but I was still a little self-righteous when I read his post. "Oh...well, I'll be saving my health but I don't spend that much money on soda."

Then I started to think about it.

In the last few days that I can remember (I have honestly not started trying to cut back), I bought a can of Dr. Pepper at the racetrack for $2 (ouch!). I bought a bottle on Sunday for $1.25. I bought a bottle last night for 1.64. I bought a bottle today--I'm not sure how much it was, exactly, but I think about $2. If this were a normal week, I would definitely buy another bottle on Thursday before class for another $1.50 or so, and probably one on the weekend at the same price. That's $9.89 spent in one week just on Dr. Pepper (more than I spend doing laundry!). If that's even close to average, I'm spending over $500 a year on Dr. Pepper!

Suddenly, I think it's going to be a little easier for me to cut back. Perhaps this is my latte factor--I used to be irritated by personal finance books that said to quit buying $4 lattes every day and you'd magically come up with a thousand dollars a year. I don't buy $4 lattes every month, much less every day, but while $500 isn't a grand, it's more than I need to be spending on sugar and water. I'm happy that I found something I can give up to save myself some money, and a little astounded that I developed such an expensive habit.

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I had a forthright conversation with New Boyfriend last week and we now know exactly how much the other makes. This made it a little weird--he makes quite a bit more than I do, but I have my own apartment (he can't figure out how I can afford it). We had been splitting expenses fairly evenly, but now that it's apparent that our incomes (and expenses) are quite different, will we continue to do so? I don't like the uneven expectations regarding dates and money and whether anyone is obligated or not--and regardless of the fact that this is 2008, those feelings and doubts do still exist, no matter how hard you try to silence them. I prefer the part of a relationship where it's almost "what's mine is yours" (although you shouldn't REALLY have such joint money management until you're very, very committed!) but we're just not there yet. This is still a very new relationship, which I sometimes forget because I feel so comfortable in it.

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The economics of a fun time out

I went to the Belmont Stakes this past weekend, the final race in the Triple Crown. I'd never been to a horse race before, but was excited about wearing a dress and heels and a big floppy hat (yep, we went all out). Tickets were $59, plus $11 roundtrip train tickets and of course overpriced food and drinks ($2 cans of soda, $4 slices of pizza).

When we got there, we discovered that our "discount" ticket broker actually charged us $59 for $20 general admission tickets with no reserved seating, so wound up sitting on the grass (in dresses, heels and floppy hats, with no blanket or anything), then standing behind a gate, then finally sitting on a hard wooden bench watching the race happening 200 yards away on a big screen television. My friends were most upset about this, but for some reason it didn't bother me. The money was a sunk cost at that point, and I was determined to have a good time. I did. I had a great time, and I would go again in a heartbeat, only I'd bring a blanket and a picnic lunch and wear shorts under my dress for more comfortable ground-sitting. And I'd buy my general admission ticket at the gate for $20 instead of three times that.

I am really glad that I have reached the point in my life where I don't have to begrudge that extra $39 and ruin a fun day by being pissed about having spent more than was necessary. The girl who bought the tickets has filed a complaint with the company, hoping to get at least some of the money refunded, which would be nice, but I'm not really worried about it.

On the other hand, we are now planning a beach trip and we're renting a Zipcar. I feel like this is a little foolish (I'd rather take the train or bus) but everyone else is so dead set on doing it I'll probably just go along rather than be a stick in the mud. Part of my reticence may be that they want to rent a convertible which will ruin my hair for the rest of the day (I realize that I'm going to the beach, and so shouldn't care what my hair looks like, but it doesn't FEEL good, either, to have one giant matted dreadlock of curly hair and between the wind and the salt water, that's exactly what I'm going to wind up with). I just don't think that renting the car is a justified expense (and I don't even have proof that it'd be cheaper to take the train). I wonder what the difference is between these two events?

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I have been doing much better with cutting back on digital clutter and living more in the real world. There's still progress to be made, but it's a good start.

6 comments:

  1. Not to mention it being better for your health. Pop is so bad!!!! :(

    Mind you, it's ok once in a while

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  2. Have you considered keeping an eye out for sales of 12-packs at the store? For example, right now CVS has 4 12-packs for $11, plus $3 Easy Care Bucks back...so it's like getting 48 cans of soda for $8. Obviously you could cut back too, but if you are only having one a day or so, that's almost 2 months of sodas for less than your one-week average cost now. Granted, you usually need the little CVS card (or whatever) to take advantage of the deals, but if you don't want to cut the Dr. Pepper out completely, it might be something to consider.

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  3. I have thought of that, or of stocking up at Costco or BJ's or a similar warehouse club. However, there's no CVS anywhere near my apartment and the major problem with stocking up on anything in NYC is transportation. I would have to physically carry the 48 bottles of soda myself (impossible) or take a car service/taxi home (probably $12 from the nearest CVS, $8 from Costco), thus negating or at least severely diminishing the savings. And then I'd have to use them as a coffee table or something, since I have only two cupboards in my kitchen.

    It's a nice thought, and I miss being able to shop that way!

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  4. I pretty much cut out soda, except when I get it for free. Which isn't all that often, but often enough to satisfy. Totally solves the budget problem!

    what's mine is yours isn't my style, at least until marriage and joint accounts and joint goals. It is just difficult for me if someone else affects my finances too heavily. I expect to pay my way, and to treat according to my budget, and to be treated according to his budgget.

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  5. Yeah, transportation of multiple 12-packs is a challenge in NYC. I usually use a little rolling cart (also handy for grocery shopping) because I have rheumatoid arthritis and can't carry very much at a time. I also keep the extra sodas in a corner of my closet--there would definitely NOT be room in my kitchen--but I understand that space is at a premium here. Just trying to think of money-saving options!

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  6. I'm having the same realization with my Diet Coke consumption. Here in Texas, Whataburger is my little daily stop for a nice cold drink. At $2.04 a day and an average of five trips per week, that's $530.40 in a year, nearly two car payments!

    I struggle with the splittling thing with my hubby a bit. He's not a saver and I'm trying to be better. He does make more than me and in my mind, I think that means he should contribute a larger percentage to our shared expenses.

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Thanks for commenting!