So, far, so good. When I set my monthly spending goals, I was initially extremely optimistic. I decided to scale them back a bit, which was probably a reasonable action. Accordingly, I am on pace to come in under my spending goal by significant margin, despite my current projection as being over – major happenings in the first half of the fiscal month:
Three Nights Out: $16.19 on Drinks
Of course, this is totally atypical for three consecutive nights out to come in under $50, let alone $20. That $16.19 was all spent last Friday night. A tall Heineken covered half of it and two more bottles covered the rest as I met up with some friends and we made a few stops throughout the night.
On Thursday, it was a friend’s birthday celebration at one of our favorite Ann Arbor locations. When I arrived the table was already littered with full pitchers of sangria and I ended up not spending a dime. Certainly the karmic drink god’s will have me return the favor, which I will gladly do so. However, for now it was a nice way to start the weekend.
On Saturday, it was a night in at a friend’s house to watch some sports and the UFC fights. A nice chill night that cost me just a few brews that were already in the fridge. Certainly, a normal night out costs something more akin to my Saturday night spending, however, I did make some very conscious decisions to keep the costs down:
- No bar food. It is so easy to order a burger or get a side of bread sticks even though it’s already past 10pm. One of the ways I hope to pull down my spending while not sacrificing nights out is eating at home first. I could have very easily ate at the restaurants and bars we visited Thursday and Friday. Instead I have $20+ still in the bank account.
- Know where the best specials are. This goes back to college days, but I probably know exactly where to go in town given the day of week and time of day to get the best drink specials while not settling for terrible cheap drinks. Of course, anyone can get this knowledge pretty easily online: http://www.a2happyhour.com/ I am sure one of these websites exists for just about every city in America.
Gas Tank Full, Sunny Skies AheadAgain, a lot of this is knowing my city very well. My general commuting principles are: never pay for parking (there’s always somewhere free to park within a half mile) and never drive if you don’t have to. On Saturday night it was a beautiful 60 degree night and instead of driving nearly six miles to watch sports at my friend’s place I said, “Why not bike it?” The bike trip was about 30 minutes as opposed to a ten minute car drive. Not only did I save at least a half a gallon of gas, I probably burned off two of those PBRs and all it cost me was 20-minutes of time that would otherwise be spent sitting on my couch.
The current forecast for Ann Arbor is simply perfect. I’ll be biking to work the next four days which will directly save me about $6 in gasoline. If the weather stays similar (and I decide to also bike to my soon-to-start umpiring gigs: ~4 mile commute, but hilly), I may not spend any more money on gasoline this month, which would put me at $25 under my monthly goal. Major win! Automotively related, I’m worried my brakes are in need of replacement. This will be a major set back in Fiscal May, but the big expenses I had in April that were one-offs (Umpire re-certification, suit for wedding, softball fee: ~$360) will hopefully account for that.
Grocery Shopping Like A Boss
I am currently projected way over my grocery budget, but like gasoline, I may be done for the fiscal month thanks to some monumental savings at Meijer (I contemplated an entire post devoted to Meijer – Michigan’s version of Wal-Mart but a private company. Also, it’s where I had my first job. Meijer outnumbers Wal-Mart in Michigan which might be the only state that has a supermarket chain that can make that claim.) I am a Meijer-savings-savant, but never was it on display like it was this weekend. There was a 5% discount on all groceries (and a 15% discount that I thought I had applied for general merchandise, but did not… another $1 that could have been saved).
MPerks is basically coupons online. You “clip” them online and then just enter your phone number at checkout, which is an amazing concept and one I try to take advantage of as much as possible. That’s where the 5% overall came from. On Sale stuff accounted for the rest. In the end, I saved $19.34. That’s 31% of my overall bill. Good stuff, and save a few random items here and there, I am basically set for the next two weeks, meaning I could come in as much as $35 under my monthly grocery budget. That would be a huge accomplishment since I thought that goal was the most optimistic.