Saturday, July 27, 2013

Money Does Not Save Itself. No Seriously. It Doesn't.

In my last blog post I told you lovely blog readers all about the fantastic adventures I am going to be taking! A few changes have been made:

1. I am no longer going to Vegas with mama Jameson... we are now instead going to take a good ol' Jameson Family Vacation on board a Caribbean Cruise Ship! The three of us will be reunited in one room for four nights. We will most likely spend our days reading by the pool, playing card games (and casino games!), singing karaoke, making friends with locals and crossing our fingers for free drinks, and taking enough fancy photos (and awkward ones) to hopefully find a decent Christmas card option!

2. We continue to add awesome stops/ideas to the road trip portion of the trip. I am currently formulating a plan that I think is really spectacular and will let everyone in on that very soon...regardless of whether or not it works out how I was hoping.

3. There is no three. I'm just real friggin' pumped.

Okay. Back on track. In order to have these super-fantastic and wonderfully splendid adventures while not having a job (read: income) for 4-5 months, I have been doing a lot of frugal living/saving of my money. Honestly, though... it has not been as hard as I thought. Regardless, here are some tips from me to you on what I've been doing to save up my funds.

1. Working on the weekends instead of going to the bar. Okay, this isn't really a tip, but having an event-filled July has really helped my wallet. Since I am pretty much unavailable on weekends, I spend a lot less money. For instance, my most recent event was the Wine on the Water Festival. My boss was wonderful enough to provide pizza, which was my dinner, and my super-great boyfriend (who also volunteered that day. I'm pretty darn lucky.) brought me my favorite sandwich for lunch. I SPENT NO MONEY!
It was the perfect day for a Wine Festival. Seriously.

Wine Fest Attendees! The girl with the flower in her hair was not drinking. Just FYI.
2. Buy less alcohol with meals...or find out which place has the best Happy Hour. Simply ordering a water with dinner or finding a decent Happy Hour saves a solid $5-10 per meal. Traverse City does not have a ton of cheap drink options, but if you know where to look, you can find a few that are MUCH more reasonable than others. Even our local microbreweries have Happy Hours where the drinks are around $1-2 less. That's a huge savings in the long run.

3. Make more meals at home. Things I've realized since I started living much less frivolously: I know how to work a grill. I'm good at cooking. Dan is good at cooking. Making things at home ensures that I will like them and also that I know exactly what is going into them nutrition-wise. For instance, when I grill vegetables, I know that they are not going to also be slathered with butter. I made a steak dinner with sweet potato fries and grilled green beans for two the other day and calculated that it came out to around $4.00 per person. It was also delicious. I'll post my sweet potato recipe some day soon.

On this note: I am going to try to make all of my dinners at home this/next week when I'm in Traverse City. I think I can do it. Plus, I just found my recipe book and shopped based on recipes I wanted to try. I plan on taking photos of all meals (yes, I am sometimes one of those people. I may even instagram them -- don't you try and stop me!!) and giving an update accordingly.
The start of tonight's dinner: Spaghetti Squash and lean ground beef with tomato sauce, onion, garlic, & green pepper
I also threw on some avocado and Parmesan for good measure. So. Good.
 4. Make baked goods as gifts. Or find some other sort of craft that you're good at. I recently found this gem and had to try it (and tweak the recipe to make it my own because I can never just settle for what has already been created. Ugh. Being Right-brained is so tiring.)... Brownies with caramel chips/drizzle and pretzel crust.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and then use adorable mini food processor to crush up pretzels. Step 2: mix them (should be like 2-3 cups) with 1/2 cup butter and 3 tbsp sugar.
Step 2: Make brownie mix as indicated on box. Add in caramel chips and chocolate chips for good measure.
Step 3: Grease pan and press pretzel mixture into the bottom. cover that with the layer of brownie. then add the caramel drizzle if it's available (hint: get the turtle brownie mix)
Step 4: Put in oven for 30 min. Check with toothpick and if they're not done, put in for another 5-7 min.
Step 5: Let them cool (or don't) and then eat with ice cream. Or by themselves. Or with anything, really. These are so darn good.
Wipe off your chin, everyone can totally see you drooling over those.

5. Do fun activities that are free! For instance: disc golfing, rollerblading, reading, going to the beach, going on a walk, swimming in a lake, having friends with boats (Ha), or what I did last week: go on a hike to gorgeous places in your neck of the woods. Dan, myself and Larry Hoover (Dan's brother's super cool dog) went to Pyramid Point and then hopped over the the Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was beautiful, we got to be outside, got to hang out with a dog -- always a plus-- and just had a really happy and free time.
The Sand Dunes!
Dan and Larry Hoover just chillin' at Pyramid Point. I had pretty cool company.
6. Don't go shopping for clothing or shoes or jewelry when you already have a closet and two storage bins full of all of the above. I may have a slight clothing/accessory addiction (BUT THEY WERE ALL PURCHASED ON SALE SO WHATEVER!), but I have not purchased a single thing since February! And guess what -- I'm still completely sane and fine. Figure out what you don't need and just go without. I promise you'll be okay.

48. (of my "Meaghanisms," not of the money saving tips... don't worry I can count.) I love candles, but I always want a tropical smelling candle in summer and a baked good smelling candle in winter. Pumpkin candles are good for fall. Spring is just a weird wild card...unless it's like this "spring" where there were only like, four days of it so I just skipped ahead to summer. Thanks a lot, Michigan.

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