I’ve always had a great love for coffee, but it’s turned into an obsession now that I’m back in school. I get up at 6 every day and usually go to bed around midnight, so I definitely need my caffeine fix every morning. The problem is that this obsession can get a little pricey. My amazingly thoughtful boyfriend was kind enough to get me a generous Starbucks gift card as a going away gift when I moved to DC. While it was much more than he should have spent, Starbucks can quickly add up, so I use it only on days when it’s absolutely necessary. Every other morning, I bring my own. I made a trip to Target to get a coffee maker and travel mug, both on sale of course. I buy Starbucks coffee, which is about $10/pound. Not bad considering that it lasts me around a month. At my local market, I found flavored syrup for a very reasonable price. Now, each morning, I make my own tasty coffee with vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon – whatever mood strikes me that day. I’d estimate that filling my travel mug costs around 10 cents per day. This is a vast improvement from $5 per day! So, get out there, invest in some reasonably priced supplies that will last a long time, play around, and you’ll figure out how to make a cheap tasty treat to start your day!
I mentioned in an earlier post that my new apartment was a little barren. It’s not that I don’t have nice things, it’s just a surprisingly huge apartment! I worked for a few years before going back to school, so I had some time to acquire some furniture that made me happy, with the exception of one very important piece…a dining room table. One great way to have a cheap, fun night is game night – I haven’t been able to plan this without the requisite table. I finally decided that my roommates weren’t going to come through for me (even though I’ve provided EVERYTHING in this apartment), so I took it upon myself to find something nice. You know I’m on an extremely tight budget, so I had to be creative. Then, I found the world of online, local classifieds. There are several sites that do this, craigslist being my favorite. You can search by city and by type of item you’re looking for. I’d recommend opening any ad where the people say they are moving. This means they’re usually desperate. Desperation means low prices for you! And remember, you always have room to negotiate. The prices in online classifieds should never be the bottom line. So, lucky for me, I spent about 3 days looking on craigslist and found a great table and chair set listed for $100 total. I bargained them down to $80 with the seat cushions thrown in as an extra freebie. They advertised that they had to be out of their apartment by the weekend (it was Wednesday), so I hit them just at the right moment when they were desperate to sell. It’s a win-win – and now I can finally have my super frugal game night!
Living in a big city while in school can be extremely frustrating. I love eating out, trying new foods, drinking wine and martinis, but that’s difficult to do on a budget…until I learned about happy hour! Just a few metro stops away from me is Bethesda. I’ve heard they have the most restaurants per square mile in the US. Who knows if that’s actually true, but I’d believe it. Everyday, just about every place there has happy hour. You can search online to look at menus and specials to find the places that suit you best. Personally, I like to go somewhere where I can get dinner (not just drinks) and not spend too much. Most of my friends are done with school and have pretty impressive jobs, so sometimes our differences in budget limit what I can do with them. When I want to see them, I just take charge, find a great place online that is affordable for happy hour, and plan the outing. This way, I get to hang out and enjoy great food, drink, and company without hurting my wallet too much. And even with great salaries, they never mind the savings. Just last night, I enjoyed an amazing pizza topped with goat cheese and crispy prosciutto and a glass of pinot noir for a total of $8…not bad for such an amazing meal! So, wherever you live, go find a great happy hour and enjoy yourself!