My boss asked me for the specifics of myproposed drop to part time status next fall---in the form of an official letter that she could take to HR to get the ball rolling. Yikes! Putting it on paper really made it seem real, and it also made a tiny wave of anxiety zip through my body. Have a I saved enough? What if I lose my second job? Can I work upwards of 65 hours a week between the internship, the day job, and my night job, without going completely crazy???
A positive outcome of the experience is that I was able to nail down my start date at the internship, which should be September 1st. Since I'm a natural 'planner', this made me feel much more comfortable. On the flip side, this is about two weeks to a month earlier than I anticipated, meaning that I have less time to pad the savings account.
I'm doing very well so far with my goal of getting to $4,000 (I'm at about $2,700 right now), and if I'm very good over the next three months, I should reach my goal, or at least very close to it. I'm still amazed that I started saving in January and have made it halfway! Just think if I'd started saving money when I was in my twenties---or even my teens! I do regret the time (and money) wasted, but then again, I'm also grateful to have 'seen the light' even at this late(r) date.
I'm committed to paying attention to what I spend each month, and decreasing expenditures where I can. Here's a list of budget tips from a recent CBS article that helped motivate me to continue on my frugal path:
- Save on personal care products: the article discusses using smaller amounts of products like shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, which is a great idea. I would add that local drugstores and grocery stores OFTEN have great deals on these items. If you keep your eyes open for sales and use coupons or rebates, you can often get these items for free, as my recent post shows.
- Save money on clothing: CBS urges us to splurge on an accessory, rather than a higher-priced item of clothing. Slightly ridiculous is the suggestion that we purchase two necklaces this year and nothing else, for a $600 savings. That seems unnecessary when there are so many thrift stores around, just waiting for frugal shoppers to grab those deals. I know that a trip to a thrift store often scratches my itch to shop---even if I don't find anything I want to buy.
- Save money on entertainment: a reader commented recently about the $1 DVD's that are available at Redbox, which I think is a great deal! If you're willing to be patient, you can also rent DVD's at the local library, which is something I've been doing for a couple of months. I've been very happy with the selection and I love getting random emails from the library to let me know a DVD is available for pickup (they'll even mail them to me). The bonus (aside from the price)? I get to keep the movies for up to two weeks!
- Save money on exercise: I canceled my gym membership when I was in the midst of paying off my credit cards, and in November---when my balances finally fell to zero---I renewed it (I waited for a special deal when there were no initiation fees, of course). I've been going to the gym regularly for $29.99 a month, and I feel that this is a fair price to retain my sanity. Exercise truly keeps me balanced and healthy. I also bought a DVD that I use in the mornings when I don't have time for a gym visit, which I'll use for years. Aside from that, there's the great outdoors---parks, paths, sidewalks, outdoor tracks---that are free for the taking.
- Save money on your ride: One of the reasons I moved to Portland was to get out of my car and have access to more public transportation options. I LOVE riding the Max (and, to a lesser degree, the bus) each day to work. When gas prices went through the roof last summer, I was barely affected because I can---if I choose---walk three blocks to a bus stop where I can grab a ride downtown. Granted, it's a LONG commute compared to taking the highway or even surface streets to work. But I save on gas, I save on parking, and I save the additional miles on my already high-mileage car. Even if public transit isn't an option, consider carpooling! You'll save money AND the environment. . . .
- Childcare: somewhat sadly, this isn't a line item in my budget! However, if I had kids, I'm sure the outrageous costs of childcare would be a major drain on my finances. I have friends who make use of flexible grandparents and other relatives as well as friends to provide low-cost (or free) daycare. In my opinion, this is seriously an area where a little government investment would make sense. I think a lot of single (and coupled) parents will continue to live in poverty because coordinating and paying for childcare is simply overwhelming.