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Archive for October, 2009

Wanting Onions and other weirdness

October 29th, 2009 at 10:06 pm

So, I think it was very possible that I almost had a minor little conniption today, while trying to make a decent filling dinner on $4 bucks, and I found myself digging through moldy onions. Yes, these were onions at a low-cost supermarket and they were moldy and all messed up. I wanted to make a simple bean dish, and having some freshly cut onions would make the dinner a little more savory, seeing as how I did not have any meat to go with it.

All of this has made me realize that with my budget this month, the money from not only my bf, but friends and family, there is absolutely no reason for me to have had to charge my gas on my cc, or be scrounging for onions at the local cheap foods mart. I am upset at myself, and my trusty budget journal will have to be used more thoroughly.

It seems like I do my budget and then there are a few days where I get off of the plan, and then it feels like I am only seeing a few days ahead. If I had been better thinking (and maybe I was better thinking, but just didn't really think honestly about how much food and gas cost?) I would have used the money I received from family and friends, and I would have bought more food at one time. bought necessities in advance, etc.

It may take me a few hours, but I am going to stand in line if needbe, and make sure I get all of the tp, paper towels, beans, etc., I will need for a month. I dislike being in this situation because I don't have to be. I feel like I could have planned better, cut back on some coffee purchases, etc. I also ate some of those 99 cent burger deals, and I need to cut back on them....especially considering that I can get a large can of beans for 2 bucks, and coupled with an onion, some tomato, and seasonings and rice, that can be a very filling dinner.

The bill I talked about yesterday called me after I sent them an email and corrected their error. I am pretty happy about that and I feel better about giving them my card information again.

I am looking forward to some R&R this weekend, as well as going over my budget, paying bills, and even trying the envelope thing that people suggested---where I can put food money in one envelope, money for toiletries in another, etc. Maybe that will help me to stick to my budget on certain things.

Soap and Sponges and Food...Oh My!

October 29th, 2009 at 10:22 am

So while the title is a bit unique, I couldn't find any correlation with my blog and the standard lions and tigers and bears! oh my! line. So, this sounded a bit funnier and more on point.

I asked my bf for more money and he helped me out. The extra gas expense wasn't planned, and it was frustrating trying figure out how much I have to spend on gas, on food, etc. Tomorrow is pay day for him, so it is a good day for me as well...it means he can buy some food and I can relax about the whole having enough issue. Mind you, we aren't starving. It is more along the lines of having rice and veggies and nothing to go with it. Which, in a lot of countries, including our own, is still a luxury, and I have been thinking more and more about how blessed I am.

I have also been getting more and more anxious about the homeless issue as I have been through it before, I don't have much savings except for my 401k, and well, my anxiety sometimes tries to creep up at times. Sigh. I have been finding myself a bit closer to crying than usual, and I have just chalked it up to hormonal fluctuations.

I have been wanting to do more Halloween activities, but with my budget, no can do on the costume or fun treats.

I am so looking foward to buying cleaning stuff and staples for the pantry this weekend. That and cleaning and maybe catching a movie on tv is what I am looking forward to.

I have been taking the comments and advice you all have given me to heart. With my bf, I can honestly say that he has done so much more for me than other men I dated who may have made 4x what he did. A lot of the guys I dated before judged me for being on a budget, or disregarded how much less I make, and how the $20 spent here and there is a much bigger deal for me than it is for them. I do, at times, find myself sad about past boyfriends and their judgements. It is irritating in some ways because a few of them were very well off, but had no real concept of working hard, and I think they saw me as being less of a person because my family was homeless and because I came from poverty, among other things.

Instead of being too eager to take care of others, I am realizing that at times, I may need help. I feel like now is a time in my life where I need my friends and this is very different from maybe a span of over 10 years where I was always trying to help everyone else.

Asking for Help

October 28th, 2009 at 09:56 pm

So, I had some unexpected expenses this week---I needed extra gas and that messed up my plans for my budget until pay day. It sort of sucks because I hate feeling like I am scrambling for money.

I also feel bad because I like to keep food in my refrigerator for snacking or just regular meals and for today there is just enough left overs for dinner for my bf, but nothing to take for lunch the next day, and no time to defrost the meat I have in the freezer, as I thought the food would last a bit longer.

I will cook again tomorrow, and that should last a couple of days at least. I am, as usual, kicking myself for not planning the month out better. I should have set aside more money for general necessities so that while I wouldn't have money for excess things, I wouldn't be going through this whole weird breakfast and lunch combinations that are not the healthiest for me.

I am almost filled with glee when I think about shopping for things like toilet paper and paper towels and deodorant. Joy!! I am also seriously going to buy a lot of pantry staples so that even when money is short, I will always have a good food option available. AND, I am going to set a bit of my food money aside to keep for Thanksgiving! Smile

My bf has been helping me more, and I really appreciate that. It has been hard for me to ask for help at times, because I worry about how it may be affecting him. I need to stop doing that, and just allow him to help me when he offers.

I spoke with the customer service rep for the account that is automatically debited per month. They seem a lot more helpful with trying to correct the issue than the customer service reps that do the automatic calling. I owe them less than $20, and they have been calling me day and night! Now don't get me wrong, $20 is a good amount and it is the principal of the matter, I understand, but why call me at 8am on the weekend? Why call me just a few minutes before 9pm at night? Sigh. My friends say I should just pay the balance (the correct balance, of course), and just be done with them. I am seriously leaning towards that.

I need to take better care of myself. I see how people age when they are stressed or work too hard and don't eat the best foods, and I worry about that for myself. I did that whole Real Age thing, and well, it put me at least 10 years older than my chronological age. Not good. Frown

I hope that everyone is doing good and I thank you and appreciate all of the advice you all have given me. Smile

Automatic Debit meanies....

October 27th, 2009 at 09:33 pm

So, I have a bill that I have automatically debited from my checking account. I placed this particular account on hold, so that I am not charged the full amount of the program.

Well, with the whole cc number change issue, the program needs me to update the information. BUT, they are charging me a higher rate than the hold. I don't have the money in my budget to pay this higher amount, and then wait for a refund from them. The customer rep (who called me), didn't understand the error, and started making all of these notes and well, I just gave up at that point. I did send an email to another customer service rep as they seem more aware of the companies billing practices.

Would you wait until the bill is corrected before giving the new cc information? The true amount I owe is less than half of what the current bill is. I also distrust the customer service rep as he seemed to eager to not listen to what I was saying and re-confirm my address and write "notes". Sigh.

I am a bit stressed today as while my budget is doing ok (bf is giving me more money for food), my wardrobe is not, a good chunk of my clothes cannot be salvaged, and I am just stressed a bit about...impressions. I really have to step up both my appearance and my talents as I do not want the impression people have of me, to mimic the impressions that those same people have of those that they think of negatively. I know I am speaking a bit in code here, but I hope it makes sense. Upon some reflection, I realized that with all the stress I have been under, having the blahs, my wardrobe issues, my health issues, etc., my image is not as rosy as it used to be, and I need to change that ASAP.

Learned a new way to cook a common dish, so it is fast becoming one of my new favorites. With just a few of the savory seasons, such as tomato, onions, bell pepper, the flavor profile of a dish can change tremendously. It also makes it taste so much more homemade and fulfilling.

Reflections

October 26th, 2009 at 08:51 am

So, the title above can be something from an SNL skit, or a 60s song made famous by Diana Ross and reinvented by the old tv show China Beach.

In any case, it was the best title I could come up with. Right now I guess I am reflecting on things in my life, though I feel more like I am being introspective, but I think I already used that title.

It was a very weird weekend for me. A relative gave me some money, which I really needed, and yet, I feel weird about taking. I don't want to feel like a charity case, ya know?

I also realized that the minute I get paid, I am going to have to stock up on the basics--I already had the no deodorant fiasco that, while I had some deodorant, it just wasn't the best kind for me, so it left me scrambling to buy more the first thing in the morning. I find myself again in a similar situation, and trying to figure out where I can buy the basic toiletry item for the cheapest in my city. Sigh.

My clothes are looking pretty shabby right now, so I defitely need to clean up the good clothes I have. I got more clothes, and bought them in the largest size I remember wearing and low and behold, they still didn't fit. So yeah, kind of bummed about that.

I am having so many feelings right now. Things are kind of up and down with me and my bf, and I hope we can work through them. I feel like with all of the stress he is going through with his family, that when I discuss what I need from him in terms of his portion of the rent, etc., it just makes him more stressed out. And I worry about how he deals with that and all the things that entails.

I just have this huge fear of being an old cat lady (no offense to old cat ladies as it isn't a horrible thing to be older with a multitude of cats---it is moreso just my own personal issues with that imagery) and not having my own family and not being loved and all of that. I also worry about money in that I don't know if I will be able to afford in vitro fertilization or if I will have enough money to be able to adopt a child when I am older. So, yeah, the emotional rollercoaster is swirling all around, and no, it really isn't a rollercoaster of love.

My stomach is bothering me right now, so the idea of going for a long walk this week doesn't sound so appealing. I will have to start getting out and doing more exercise and I need to get away from the foods I have been eating, cause they are making me bloat like crazy.

I am feeling kind of anxious right now, and just think it is nerves and worry and stress. I have about $10 for food for this week, but I think that will be enough as I already made enough food to last hopefully for the rest of the day.

Exasperated

October 22nd, 2009 at 07:40 pm

Today was one of those days where I would say that I had to dig deep down within myself and bite my tongue, but honestly, I was so tired and felt so down beaten that is was easier for me to just acquiesce.

I have come from sleeping on the floor of a person's 1 bedroom apartment (with other people, mind you) and having to make sure I shake out the roaches from my clothes before going to school (I am being very serious), to being able to visit other countries on my own, and seeing famous works of art. I dislike that because people focus on outer things that are not so important to me, I sometimes have certain people treat me in such a way that makes me feel like I am 12 years old all over again. I don't like having to conform to their beliefs, but part of me feels like I have no choice......some people will not accept that I know what I can do, if I do not conform to their image ideas.

I felt so brow beaten today that all I could really do is just be quiet and exasperated.

I am taking things in my life one step at a time. Things have been stressful for me lately in a few areas of my life, and I am just focusing on getting everything together---with my finances and health being at the top of the list. I am not bad off by any means, but I just don't have my usual zest.

So, yeah, today was just a bit tiring. I am really motivated about improving the areas in my life that are a little out of whack. I also realize that because I may be letting my finances affect my clothing, I am going to seriously work on that front and get things more together. I know the things that I am good at, and it is frustrating when other people think that I am not good at those things.

Things are better between me and my bf. I had felt a bit bad at first about the way we argued, but I held my ground and didn't backtrack from what I had said. And I think he really got where I was coming from. He has been helping a lot more and I appreciate that. He also made a comment yesterday that suggested he may want to be with me for the long haul. Of course, I may be seeing it through a female who really wants to be married and making babies type of lens (sorry, just being honest) and thinking that when he means future us, he means fuuuutttttuuuuururrrreeeee us, ya know? He could very well mean just right now, or maybe sometime soon. But I took his comment to mean the future and that meant a lot to me. I have a small place, but it is comfortable for the both of us, and if we work together, we can improve it a lot. I really do feel blessed to have the place I have, even though I realize I probably sound like such a curmudgeon when I complain about the upper class and their affect on my city. I know, me thinks I protest a bit too much at times. Sometimes, it is best to just sigh, get your mind off of the topic, and focus on things that bring you a bit more joy, rather than things that get the blood boiling.

Every day I am using my little calculator and figuring out what I can buy and what bill is due and all of that. I have been very resourceful with my food and have been having odd food combinations, but ya know what? I am full from breakfast to the time I get home in the evening, and that is what I am focusing on. When I have more money, then I can focus a bit more on being full off of healthier food, than what I am eating now.

I am very motivated, and I am very happy to be feeling that way. Smile

Emotions

October 21st, 2009 at 11:31 am

So, I was going to discuss hurdles and getting over them and I decided to go with the title above.

A few days ago I felt totally stressed out and unsure of how I would be food for two weeks. I was quite grumpy.

Now, with the help of friends and family and watching my budget, I am doing ok. Smile I am very, very tired, but feeling a lot better.

My bf has been contributing to our expenses, just not as much as previously discussed. We had a really good talk and he is helping me more. He even stopped that whole "We pay separately for our food mess" and is now buying food for the house. I like that, and I appreciate that, and he made a comment yesterday that let me know that he understands that while it is hard for him and what he is going through, that I need help as well.

I did give him some budgeting advice, but I have learned to back off about it. He is either going to follow that advice, or he isn't, ya know? But it isn't my responsibility.

I have also been using more brown rice in certain dishes and my lunches last A LOT longer hunger wise than when I used white rice. I still haven't been able to completely avoid pasta, but I try to add more green veggies to the dish to make it some semblance of being healthy. Smile

Thanks everybody for the links and the advice about the pantry stuff. I am going to put it on my to do list to make more room on the shelving I have for food, and to toss more and more items that I just don't need or want or are using.

I am also going to ask a relative who has been offering help, for help, which is a hard thing for me to do. Mainly because of our past issues, it is hard for me to feel like, 100% I can depend on this person, so at times I feel a bit distanced.

I am also going to take maybe $20 from my upcoming paycheck, and put some of my nicer blouses that need ironing into the dry cleaners for a fresh spiffy-up. That way, I will always have a nice shirt on hand when needed.

Thank you everybody for your support, and thank you for listening to me, even when I ramble and go up and down like a roller coaster.

2nd Half of the Month

October 20th, 2009 at 08:55 am

Well, one thing that I have learned recently, that I am going to hold myself to next month, is making sure that when I get paid, I buy EVERYTHING I will need for that month in advance! I cannot express how frustrating it is when I am doing the budget calculations again and again on my tiny little calculator, and realizing that I have to budget for a basic toiletry, and how that negatively affects my budget. Frown

So, next month, I want to do something different, and stock up on certain food items....I want to stock up on multiple cans of beans and bags of rice. Right now, I usually buy only 2 or 3 cans of beans at the same time, and only 1 bag of rice at a time. Next month I want to double that. Just so that when the cupboard is a bit bare (a little bit like now), I will know that I always have enough food to last the remaining week or two.

I will also go back to my previous patterns, and buy all the toiletries I will need for the entire month, at the beginning of the month (I go through at least 1 bottle of hair stuff per month). I am also going to see about putting my money for washing clothes into a separate envelope so that I am never in the situation (as I am in now), where I have to weigh washing clothes, over buying food. While it is in no means a sob story, it is a bit embarassing.

My bf has been more helpful to me lately. He really changed his tune of each of us buying our own food, to offering to buy me food stuff that I need. I am going to start saying yes more. We talked yesterday, and the stuff with his family is really hard and stressing him out. I really feel for him because some of the stress his family puts on him isn't always appropriate, ya know? All I can do is just offer support and maybe different ways of interacting with the family for more positive results.

Things are ok, I am just a bit bummed about my coffee budget (see......shows how spoiled I am!) and how there really isn't room in my budget to be buying coffee made from a cafe (or even McDonald's---don't laugh, it really isn't all that bad). I hope to work on my coffee skills this week.

I will admit that I notice that the way I am acting now with my money, is very similar to how I was raised. We did the same thing of being over excited when first getting money at the beginning of the month and eating nicer food, to eating the left over animal parts (it sounds gross, but hey, it is true---those parts of the animal were cheaper because people don't like to use them....and why do we eat ox tails, but not any other part of the ox??) at the end of the month and having the cupboards be bare. I really don't like that I am repeating that, so I want to work on that. I also want to state that while I have cabinet space, I don't have much, it is cluttered, and there is no semblance of a true pantry to store food like when I was a kid. The cabinets are directly over the stove, so I worry about putting cans there that may get too hot from all of the cooking. Suggestions are welcomed. Smile

Hope everyone is doing well. Smile Thank you for taking the time to read my little musings.

Groceries....flashy versus frugal

October 18th, 2009 at 03:24 pm

So, today I went grocery shopping as usual. I shop at a local super cheap market (the kind where people warn you to not buy the meat because of concerns about...ahem....expiration date and handling) and I have noticed that the clientele appears to have changed. You used to have a parking lot full of only very old cars, some SUVs and minivans, and lots of families and people on fixed incomes. But lately, I am seeing the hybrids and volvo's slowly start to litter the lot. I see people in line who look like they are a bit uncomfortable. I can imagine that if you are used to only shopping at Wholefood's or Safeway, you would be used to a certain look to things, and this lower budget super market doesn't really have that.

I can't lie and say that I don't wish I had a budget to at least partly shop at Wholefood's (there are some things I refuse to pay more for just because of the location, such as cereal, toiletries, etc.), and then shop for other ends at more lower priced stores. I miss the availability of certain types of goodies like different cheeses and dairy options at the lower priced store.

I also hate the extreme amount of processed "food" found at the lower end supermarket.

Let me preface this by saying that I come from a low-income family where kool-aid was the norm, and I learned to not complain about eating the same thing for 3 days in a row--heck, that is now how I cook! But I am really disgusted in some ways by the products that are offered, and almost pushed on people who are low-income.

I have refused to buy the fried noodles that everyone knows from college, that are like, 10 pks for 1 dollar. To me, they are fried, full of fat and calories, and even more importantly, chock full of sodium. I refuse to eat that if I can at all avoid it. But I almost always see a family with a whole carton of it in their shopping cart.

Now, if that is all I see in their cart, then I am sad, because maybe they can't buy anything else. And I get sad by the families that spend over 100 bucks in one shopping trip, an have tons of fried noodles, fruit punch that is sooooo fake (i.e., not even 1 percent of fruit juice), that you can literally taste just sugar, chemicals, and dyes, the 1 dollar budget meals, and just everything is super processed. I am not mad at them, it just makes me sad. I also realize that when you are broke, and trying to feed a lot of mouths, and may not have good cooking skills, you are going to focus on price per portion as your main goal.

I was upset today when I was shopping and I saw an overweight mom in the store just standing (not actually picking anything up to buy, but literally standing and leaning on a display while he child sat on part of the display), and talking loud on her cell phone. I wasn't try to eavesdrop, but she was loud enough for me to hear that she is going to go back to school (a good thing), because she doesn't like the jobs she has been getting. She also mentioned something about if the doctor tells her she is able to go back to work, she will just say that she is in school and can't work and something about how she gets money for transportation, etc. She was cursing very loud (I almost used slang right there, but stopped), and it was just...upsetting. I come from a family on welfare, so when people act in such a way, it makes it hard for people who haven't experienced such poverty to be sympathetic. Often, I have to be the counter voice to people who make negative comments about those on welfare.

I was reading a book about eating healthy and I really liked it, except at the very end where the author made a comment about there being a low level of people that are actually in poverty in America (wrong!!), and that he sees a family buy soda versus just drinking water. For one, that is just super elitist (and I say this as a person who is a college grad hoping to get her Master's one day), and does everyone ONLY drink water in their lives? Why not comment on the bigger issue---fresh or even orange juice from concentrate is usually $2.00 or more per half-gallon. Many neighborhood corner stores double that amount easily.Stores are now selling 3 1-liters of soda for $1!!! I don't make soda a routine part of my diet, but I admitted that was a good deal, especially on special occasions or when having company, etc.

I am torn because I have been where the people I see with the fried noodles have been. I often have to fight that part of myself, as well, as sometimes I buy day old stuff just to save a buck, when maybe it isn't the healthiest thing to do. I am also upset at those who have never been in such a situation, and make ridiculous comments about those with a $12,000 a year income should forego meat altogether, if they cannot buy it organically. Grrrrrrrrrr. Frown I often have little words with my friends when I think I am doing a good thing by letting them know of a great deal on a healthy lean protein, and they reply that they only eat organic meat.

I really hope that there can be an increase is healthy foods for all neighborhoods....Wholefoods shouldn't be something that people from all incomes aren't able to experience.

Goals....on a more positive note

October 18th, 2009 at 02:40 pm

I know that I have been sounding kind of funky lately in my entries(and not in the George Clinton sense), and I am sorry if anyone has been a bit bummed out by them. I am not always in this kind of mood, just lately, it seems.

I am looking at trying to be as resourceful as possible, buying things that are only absolutely necessary, and trying to make more time for me. I also find that blogging and journaling help immensely...there is the fact that on a daily basis, while I have a lot of friends and some family and a loving boyfriend, I don't really have people I can talk to about things I see or encounter on a daily basis. I just don't want them to fear talking to me for fear that it will just be wah wah wah, so I don't call them as often as I should.

I have been thinking of my finances, and while it is true that I don't have a decent emergency savings, and have a good amount of debt, it is also true that my 401k is almost back at the level it was before the recession (yay!!!), my bills are slowly, but surely being paid off, with two large bills being paid off within a year. Yay!! I have a roof over my head, some nice clothes I can always hand wash or dry clean to keep them in shape, and my car, which takes very good care of me (love you girlie!!), and even though I may have a big appetite, I am nowhere near starving.

Some goals I have for myself (finances wise) is to get my emergency savings up to at least $10,000-$12,000 (about 3-4 months of expenses). If I had a year's worth of living expenses, I would probably do cartwheels, I kidd you not.

I really want to learn how to play in the stock market....I have always wanted to know how to read the investment figures and whatnot, but never learned. I would really like to learn how to read that. The most I do now is listen to financial shows and keep an eye on the dow, and routinely check my 401k. My investment level is moderately aggressive, so maybe I should go up one level as I have about 30 more years before nearing retirement age.

I also want to own a home by age 40. I know that means I will have to get my credit rating super duper high, and try and get over $25,000 in savings.

I know someone who has a home, and she is always this negative kind of vibe (you guys think I am negative, HA!) no matter what the topic...it seems like nothing makes her happy, there is no joy in anything, even spending time with family, or owning her own home. I don't want to be like that. If I owned my own home, I would want to have trees or lots of foliage and greens and I would want to try and at least be able to grow some kind of veggie or fruit, ya know?

I want to visit some Asian and Latino countries in my life time. I want to view more of our country and how people live. I want to have the joy of taking a train in another country, or flying across the atlantic (?) to visit lands far away. I can't explain how much, to me, going to a country such as China or Japan, would help to sort of undue a lot of the negative stuff growing up.....it is hard to explain what I would feel, but it would be a very cathartic and healing process I think.

I want to thank everyone for all of their support and encouragement. Things seem better between me and my bf. I think that maybe what I said just needed to be said? I am also being more understanding that there are some aspects of the family situation that are more stressful than maybe I am admitting, and I am being mindful of that.