Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For sale: Pride, Social Life, Socks

No fooling, this summer really is going by fast. Last month I wrote about my coming to terms with my student loan debt and deciding to live within my means. I'm happy to say that I've been consistent with that goal, but sad to say that it's going to be a long, long road. Here's an update as to how it's going:

I have always had a second job on the weekends. (Seriously, always! I can't remember when I ever had only one job.) So, I've taken on more weekend hours to try and make ends meet, but I question if this is a productive use of my time. I make a decent hourly wage, but still - it's an hourly wage at a retail store. It's fun because it's unpredictable. It's just not as much fun as, say, going to that movie I was invited to on Sunday. Or, going away to the beach for Labor Day weekend. (although I don't know how good of an idea that would be anyway. Thanks, Earl!) Or, if I was really doing well, I could even make it to watch two of my good friends get married back in Iowa City next month. Unfortunately, knowing all of my other options makes the shifts at the bookstore a bit depressing. Still, not as depressing as not being able to pay the rent. So there is that.

Also last month I received an eBay offer that will allow me to list up to 100 items between August 22 and September 7th with no listing fees. This is a great deal! Usually if you list something on eBay, even if it doesn't sell you are still stuck paying the listing fee - which can be anywhere from $.10 to I don't know how many dollars, depending on how much you ask for when you start the auction. I decided to take eBay up on this generous offer and I am going to sell 100 items. Well, I'm going to list 100 items. I don't know if they'll sell. I think by the time I get to item number 100 the title may be, "Box of keys that I don't know what they go to." Or, "Five socks I can not find the match to. Makes a great gift!!" So far I've listed over 60 items and I still have 40 left to go. I haven't even started to dig through my clothes yet, so I think I will spend Monday ransacking my apartment looking for things that I don't need. I think it has served me well to create a goal of 100 items. It seems like a lot, but I have so many books and movies that those will take up a good chunk. I also listed some back issues of magazines (and even sold a few!) and I found all kinds of things I don't use any more and they have been sitting around being ignored. Some of the DVDs I sold were hard to part with and I'm sure some of the remaining 40 items will be things I don't necessarily want to get rid of. But if I'm not using it, I may as well sell it. The goal of 100 items has also made me realize how much crap I have. I have a lot of stuff. So far I have $130 in my Paypal account and over $50 due from buyers who have not yet paid. I have a credit card with a revolving balance of $500 and I decided I'm putting every cent of the eBay money toward that one credit card. It would be slick if I could get $500 total for this junk and get rid of one burden in my life. Unfortunately I will be lucky if I get half of that. Still, it's progress. Plus, it will keep me from what could have been a potential career as a hoarder. So there's another side benefit of selling everything. There's always a bright side!

Along with the part-time job and the eBay goal, I have cut an unbelievable amount of spending in my life. I truly appreciate all of the bloggers out there who write about being frugal and spending money. I would list some of them here, but there are too many to list. I've been using an embarrassing amount of coupons for a young hipster, but it's really paid off. There are many blogs out there who are dedicated to matching up weekly grocery ads with coupons available. This makes using coupons so much less time-consuming! It works, too. This week I went to Safeway and came home with a loaf of bread, a bag of salad mix, three bananas, three bags of instant potatoes, two 12-oz. packages of Kraft singles, 8 individually wrapped packages of Lance crackers, 10-oz. Teriyaki sauce, four 8-oz. bags of Teddy Grahams, and a box of frozen pretzels for a total of $11.57. According to the receipt, I saved $25.60 between sale items and coupons. It's kind of amazing to see how much money you can save, but it does take a good amount of effort to plan ahead and it takes an even greater amount of humility to stand with a line of people behind you and having the cashier scan coupon- after coupon- after coupon. It doesn't feel quite as cool as hanging out at a happy hour and socializing with friends, but trust me - it comes at a fraction of the cost. The amount of money I've saved by cutting out drinking in bars and bringing my lunch every day to work is amazing. It's no wonder I ended up in this situation to begin with. I should have been doing this a long time ago. Perhaps I would not have ended up in this situation to begin with. But then, I'd be pretty miserable if I had always been this boring. It's the memories of shenanigans with friends that motivates me to get caught up on bills and enjoy my social life again. Anyway, I've found some great ways to cut corners and I think I may have to share them on this blog over the next few months. Even if I end up increasing my income like I need to, I'll still have to stay frugal through the end of the year. Which means I'm thinking about Christmas presents already and if you're on my Christmas list, you should begin not getting your hopes up immediately.