Things I have learned

Cable TV is dead! I’m not kidding. I believe this is the week that I will finally call and cancel my cable. I’ve been wanting to do it since January, but the fee — fee! they charge to cancel but not to restart, bastards — has been getting me down. Also the TiVo starts looking sad whenever I talk about this, because it senses that it is next.

Anyway, why is cable dead? Because I am convinced that I can get anything I want to watch via Internet. Including “The Daily Show.” Not only are there random download sources out there (and the Comedy Central Web site, which often has the segments I want for free), but now iTunes is offering a “multi-pass” for the show: for $9.99, you get the current episode and the next 15 new episodes automatically downloaded to your computer. As the only other show I’m currently interested in is on network TV, I don’t see how my cable bill can be justified. I used to think CNN was something I couldn’t live without, but it turns out, eh. No. Don’t really need it. I have my Internet, I have my newspapers, I have my radio, I’m cool. P.S. Wolf Blitzer, I hate you.

Also, I’ve decided to give the Brita Water Pitcher a second chance. Thus begins a two-month experiment (I made a water tag). I had bad experiences with The Brita in college — namely, it always seemed to taste like chlorine — but perhaps with careful attention to the filters and all, this could be avoided. I’m picky about my water. If I were writing up a Dick Cheney-esque rider for hotel rooms, I would include 16.9 oz. bottles of room temperature Dasani water (alongside the cavernous fridge full of Diet Pepsi and Tofu Pad Thai). Room temperature! Very important. I like room-temp bottled water, then cold bottled water, then water with ice, and finally, ice-cold water. This may be the downfall for The Brita. I’ve lived with me for 26 years, and this is what I’ve learned about myself. I am picky about water.

I had a very harsh and serious talk with me yesterday about conserving money and trying to save ahead of the lean two years at grad school that are coming up. Apparently, I was so hard on myself that I felt the need to comfort shop, and bought a new $27 Calphalon pan from amazon.com. Oh, me.

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8 Responses to Things I have learned

  1. drenilop says:

    The biggest money-wasters are eating out and coffee shops. The pan is a justifiable buy if you get back into the habit of doing a decent amount of your own cooking. So the thing to do before you move is to review your recipe book, find a mess of things you know you’ll eat (especially ones that make leftovers for next-day-lunches), stock up on assorted spices and other used-rarely-but-important-and-expensive-to-replace stuff like that, make sure you own a decent set of tupperware and a lunchbox, buying good sneakers, etc. Realistically, if you can curb the buying food/coffee thing, you can still manage a decent lifestyle. My rule is that I will not pack more than one meal a day. If I’m going to be gone through 2 meals, then I can buy one of them out. That said, I usually end up getting $6-7 sandwiches that are really 2 meals and then saving the rest for the next day because I simply can’t eat that much. I usually budget $25-30 a month for entertainment – buying fiction, yarn, movies, whatever. I could probably double that and not have too much trouble. You can probably manage to keep up a low-price Netflix subscription – $10 a month vs $10 each for movies in the theater – to help with the movie cravings. If you think CAREFULLY about the budget, you could probably even get yourself a decent new tv with a fairly large screen from somewhere like Best Buy that frequently offers 0% interest on all purchases over some amount. That gives you a year of paying $20-30 a month for it to pay it off. I have cable but only the very basic (30 channel) version, $15 a month. Learn what stuff you use goes on sale regularly and which often have coupons; start trying generic brands now if you don’t already.

  2. kepkanation says:

    Yeah, I already know that my big money-waster is eating out. Which is pretty ridiculous, considering that I can make almost everything I end up eating when I go out. I’m not very good about packing a lunch at this point, because I don’t like to eat at/near work (it doesn’t feel like I’ve actually had a break if I stay there), but coming home for lunch is a viable option that I’m trying to make better use of. I’m hoping that my opinion will be different when I’m in school — i.e., that I won’t mind staying on campus to eat. I’m also hoping that I’ll be better able to make use of public transit to get places, and that this might cut back on my gas bills.

    Luckily, I have the TV already, and I’ve started thinking about collecting stuff that I’ll want but not be able to afford when I go away. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get over the going-out-to-movies cravings, particularly because I don’t usually enjoy watching movies at home even half as much, but I can certainly cut back on how often I go and what I spend when I’m there — $6 popcorn? No no no.

    Do you have any good coupon organization tricks? Mine tend to sit unused until they expire.

    It’s just a little daunting to think about having roughly 1/3 of the income that I have now! It’s the only way in which my tiny taste of “the real world” makes me less excited about getting back to school.

  3. drenilop says:

    I’m not too organized with coupons. Frankly I don’t use the majority of mine because even after coupons I can usually get the generics cheaper. Mom has an index card file box, with labeled cards as dividers, and keeps all hers in there.

    Even if you don’t eat IN the office, go to another building or a communal space (student union, lounge, etc) and eat there.

  4. kepkanation says:

    I’ve tried going to the student union that’s next door, but the trouble is, I just run into people from work — bleh. I’ve been thinking of trying out the law library across the street instead, which is now allowing food and drink near the books.

  5. drenilop says:

    That works. Whatever works is permissible for graduate students.

  6. kepkanation says:

    Yay! I love the permissiveness that exists for students, you know? It suddenly becomes OK again to smuggle soda into the theater on a student budget, for instance. 😉

  7. starstraf says:

    I have a coupon folder – I think I picked it up at a grocery store years ago (need a new one this is falling apart) and I have the coupons in there divided by index cards by the aisles of Checkers (where we shop most often) – One trip I just took a stack of index cards with me and listed what was in that aisle. In addition there are additional index cards for “eating out” (all my punch cards and KFC coupons) and one for ‘specific store’ – the Bed bath beyond coupons. I keep this in my purse. – I used to keep in my car and bring in as pooch was making the shopping list and add the stack of coupons from my desk.

    FYI – I did a 50% pay cut once – when I moved from Chicago to C/U, and we did a similar cut moving here going from two incomes to one. Buy me lunch and you can pick my brain about things I did to make ends meet as best I can

  8. starstraf says:

    I get torn on this one. Usually my stilly self reasoning is that I will smuggle in soda at most two out of every three trips. If I’m using a coupon / mattenee, March madness discount of any type I don’t smuggle in soda. But I EASILY submit to peer pressure on this one. Especially when out with Pooch and Yosa (must leave early for movie to stop by Target to get soda). I worked at a theater twice in my life so I’m against this but not enoough to stand up for it

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