This probably sounds crazy but I miss retail shopping. Up here there is mostly boutique shopping which means insanely high prices that are well beyond my student budget. On the bright side, there is a Filene’s Basement but most of their brands are super-brands; in my mind anything nicer than Express or Banana Republic is a super-brand that falls outside of the regular public’s knowledge of fashion and budget. Even on their discount prices a lot of the jeans were over $120 and that’s just impossible to afford. Oh well.
For some extra money this summer I have been working as a copyrighter. It’s a pretty terrible job–writing manuals for machines and whatnot. Even though Washington is such an expensive city, the pay isn’t really in-step with the costs of living here. The job pays about $15/hr, which is about what it pays in Florida. Everything else in Florida cost about 20% less, so when I moved here I was anticipating being able to earn 20% to compensate for the difference. Surprise!
I was spoiled in Florida. My boyfriend was a Starbucksaholic and I frequently would reap the benefits of his many daily trips. When I moved up here I learned the closest Starbucks was over a mile away and the thought of taking the metro ($4) to get to one was painful. Because of this I relented and bought a little coffeemaker, a bean grinder, and some flavored syrups. When it’s all said and done the total price of one of “my” cups of coffee is about $0.89 but let’s be honest, it’s pretty disgusting compared to SBUX. Oh well, that’s living on a budget.
You would think by not having my car up here I would be saving loads of money on gas. Not so. I of course don’t spend any money on gas, but the price of public transportation is not exactly cheap. I’m able to separate out the fact I’m doing my part for the environment though, so I guess some good does come out of it. I take the metro to the university shuttle every day and that cost $4. That’s about 1.50 gallons of gas. Even if I was getting atrocious gas mileage, I’d still be able to drive the two miles easily for less gas than that. I guess that’s the “convenience” of the metro, even though it’s not as frugal a convenience as you might think.
Coming from Florida, I was at first shocked by the cost of citrus fruits up here–about 4x as expensive. How am I supposed to prevent scurvy at those prices? After shelling out some big bucks for necessities like orange juice and fresh apples at the local Giant, I finally discovered a farmer’s market about six metro stops away. Even though it’s terribly inconvenient to carry large amounts of produce back on the metro, if I continue to go every weekend I can easily carry a week’s worth of fresh produce back with me while paying roughly what I paid in Florida. Also factoring into the equation though is the cost of the metro. The round-trip fare is about $5.50, or the price of a carton of orange juice at the local store. Because of this I always make sure I buy my money’s worth at the market.
Happy Birthday Mom! In the spirit of frugality, I sent her a collection of gift cards worth about $50 that I was never going to use. Was it terribly thoughtful? No, not really. Was it frugal? Absolutely. She will certainly be able to use those cards and although there was a little part of me that felt guilty about re-gifting, the majority of me felt good that she got something that she was going to use and that I got rid of something of value that was just taking up space. Anyway, happy birthday!
Here’s a little background about me. I was born and raised in Florida and moved to DC at the ripe age of 24 to get some higher education. I currently live with several roommates, who are also in school with me, and also trying to get by on as little money as possible. We live in a nice neighborhood, as we all had concerns about safety, and our rent (combined) is over $2500/month. Obviously, a monthly expense like that will put an enormous dent into anyone’s budget. Our apartment is pretty barren: limited furniture, hideous parque flooring, outdated and small bathrooms…I could go on forever. Regardless of that though, the location is pretty good–about 1.5 miles to our school and as I said previously, in a very safe neighborhood.
Hello! As of today, you can officially call me Ms. Frugal. I am a student in Washington, D.C. Living in such an expensive area, I’m more than familiar with living a frugal lifestyle. I hope these posts provide some helpful tips of living a more frugal life; one where you can live both comfortably and below your means. It is my intention to provide useful information on frugal shopping, personal finances, and ways to save money that still ensure a reasonable standard of living. I hope you will enjoy reading this as much as I will enjoy writing this blog.