Online TV

If you’re extremely busy like I am, it’s easy to get behind on your favorite TV shows. It’s hard to be home at the right time when you have so much going on. You also don’t want to put TV above your social life! My fix for this is watching TV online. I don’t mean itunes, I mean for free! If you catch up on your shows through itunes, you’ll pay around $2 per show. This can add up, and it’s not worth it when you would usually be watching for free on TV. Most channels now have online services allowing you to watch your favorite shows. I’m a big fan of many ABC shows, like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives – usually around 24 hours after the show airs, I can catch them online. Most stations leave the shows up for at least a few months. So, no need to pay itunes for shows you can get for free…try it out!


If you live in a big city, you know that housing can be extremely expensive. Before I moved here, I paid about $350/month with roommates and $700 in my own place (including all utilities, tv, etc.). Here, an average studio/efficiency in a fairly nice neighborhood is over $1,000, usually not including utilities. I hear that NYC is even more expensive. If you’re dying to live in a big city (and not in the burbs), how can you ever afford this? Be creative! I live with 2 other people in a 2 bedroom apartment. You may wonder how this works. We found an apartment with a dining room, and the rental company agreed to put up a wall and a door, making the dining room into a third bedroom. There is an extra coat closet in the living room, so that’s the closet used for that new bedroom. So, we pay for a 2 bedroom apartment when it really has 3. Split, I pay $850/month with my utilities included, and I’m right own town! Not too bad!

Sales Tax

Living in DC, I’m lucky to have two states nearby. Maryland, Virginia, and DC all have very different personalities, and it’s fun to take advantage of all of the opportunities. While I absolutely love DC, I usually decide to shop in Maryland or Virginia when I’m buying clothes or especially when I’m buying large purchases. Why? Sales tax. DC has an unusually high sales tax, and it definitely can add a lot to your total bill. Especially when buying furniture, electronics, winter coats…expensive items. You wouldn’t think that just a few percentage points higher would make a big difference, but like so many other things, it can really add up! I realize not everyone has the luxury of choosing which state in which to shop, but if you do you should definitely give it some thought! Happy Shopping!


Before I moved here, my town was very spread out. It was basically impossible to walk anywhere, and no one gave it any thought. One thing I love about living here is the opportunity to walk most places that I need to go. Yesterday, I walked to and from the library at my school. It was a beautiful day, so it was quite enjoyable. Today, I’ll probably do the same rather than take the bus. It’s healthy, and it’s frugal! Taking the metro one way costs about $1.50 and the bus is $1.25. A daily savings of $3 doesn’t seem like much, but that’s a coffee at starbucks or it’s a $15 dinner out at the end of the week. It’s crazy how things add up.

Outlet shopping!

Nothing is better than finding great deals on quality things! Yesterday, my friends and I piled into the car and drove out to the outlet mall nearby. While none of us can afford to shop, we all need suits for upcoming interviews for summer positions. At my suggestion, we all set a reasonable budget, and we were on our way! I personally brought my budget in cash so there would be no question as to how much I had spent. This is a good idea for controlling yourself in such a tempting environment. Outlets are a great idea for finding high quality pieces at affordable prices. I ended up with a $350 suit and a $120 pair of shoes for a grand total of $200! A savings of $270 is not too shabby. Most cities have an outlet mall within about an hour or so, so check them out and have fun shopping!

Doing what you love

Today my school had a career day to talk about summer internships for the first summer of our three year program. I have to say it was a little overwhelming! I plan to go into the public interest sector of my profession – needless to say, it pays hardly anything. Summer internships are unpaid. For my classmates going into the private sector, they will make close to $30,000 for the 10 weeks of summer work. I knew there would be a discrepancy in pay between the sectors, but I had no idea it would be that large! While I am tempted to go the private route just for the money, that would go against my passions and goals. It’s definitely hard to do what you love sometimes, especially when doing what you love means giving up on such a huge paycheck. But, I will make it work, and you can too! I know for all summer internships, there are tons of sources for summer funding. If you search Idealist and similar sites, you can find some amazing opportunities. And, if you get a few grants, you can make enough to cover your expenses while working for free during the summer. So check out some of those sources for public interest grants – you never know what you might find! Sticking with your passion and gaining great work experience is priceless.

Local Brewery

Tonight I celebrated the end of the week with a few friends from school. Instead of going to the trendy, expensive part of town, we decided to hit up a bar in our neighborhood that brews their own beer. What a great decision! We went, of course, at happy hour time. We shared 2 appetizers and both had two local beers. Each bill? Just over $10! So, my suggestion for today – explore your neighborhood and see what little places you can find. I love these little places because they’re appreciative to have your business. They also want to sell their own brew, so they’ll usually have great deals and you get to try something other than the usual domestic choice. So look up your friendly neighborhood establishments, and have a great beer for me!

Gourmet Cheese

Living frugally doesn’t mean giving up the finer things in life, it just means being more creative about getting them. Down the street from me is a gourmet wine and cheese shop. I’ll talk about the wine sometime in the future. They have a cheese counter that sells amazing, very expensive cheese. I went in one day and told the guy behind the counter that I appreciated fine cheese but couldn’t afford it. He let me in on a little secret. When they get down to the end of a large block of cheese (after cutting pieces off for people), they can’t keep it in the case any longer because it may be too small to fit the next order. So they cut these remnants into smaller pieces and sell them to frugal folks like myself. Once a week, I go in and ask for the remnants – for 99 cents a piece, I get to enjoy amazing pieces of brie, chevre, and gouda. They’re pretty healthy sized pieces too! So, find your local cheese shop and ask the person behind the counter if they’ll sell you the remnants. When you have your friends over and serve them your gourmet find, they’ll never know you only spent 99 cents!


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!

Online classifieds

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!