Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May Grocery Challenge - Week 1

I'm participating in Krystal's May Grocery Challenge, so I thought I would list out my grocery expenses each week as I go through the challenge.

My goal is to spend less than $120 for the month, which includes eating out. This week I spent $31.54, including a lunch at Jack in the Box. I rarely eat out for both money and health reasons, but I was out looking for apartments and didn't pack anything to take with me. Here's the breakdown:

Jack in the Box:
$5.59 Sourdough Jack Meal

Stater Bros:
$8.39 Chicken
$2.50 Bread
$10.89 Total

Fresh and Easy:
$1.58 Eggs
$1.98 Half gallon of milk
$4.43 Splenda
$2.59 Grape Nuts
$2.49 Fresh Strawberries
$2.98 Peanut Butter
$1.49 Frozen Strawberries
$2.34 Honey
$0.18 a banana
$20.06 Subtotal
-$5.00 off coupon
$15.06 Total

I tend to buy and cook in bulk and then freeze individual portions for later, so my week to week purchases don't usually contain well rounded nutritional value, but don't worry, I'm getting a good variety overall. :)

Deciding on a New Apartment

About 20 minutes after I wrote about finding my new apartment, one of the girls emailed me to say that she'll be moving out in September or October because she just found out that she's pregnant. She wanted me to know upfront in case it affected my decision.

I emailed her back to say that I needed time to think about it, and I've been doing just that ever since. The thing I'm most concerned about is that a lot can happen between now and October, and I don't want to be living in tiny quarters with a newborn if she ended up not moving out for some reason.

I talked to my mom and a couple of friends about it, and I think I've decided that I'm still going to take the apartment. Even if worse came to worse, my lease would be up in January so I could move out then, but I really don't think that will be neccessary. The girl is being very upfront and honest about the situation, and when I mentioned my concern, she assured me that she would 100% be moving out because there's no space for a baby in her current room. She also mentioned that of the people they've seen, I'm their first choice to move in, which makes me feel good that we all felt the same good vibes with each other.

So by the end of the month, I'll be living in a new place. I'm slightly more apprehensive about it now then I was before I knew about the pregnancy, but overall I'm really excited. Change is hard for some people, but I think I actually thrive on it a little. It's a new adventure full of new opportunities.

Now I just have to figure out the most economical way to move my stuff there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Finding the New Apartment

I think I found the apartment I'm going to move to. I went to see it and meet the roommates last night, and I loved it. The only downsides are that the room is a little smaller than what I have now and the expenses are a little more, but I think overall the pros outweigh the cons.

It's a three bedroom, two bath apartment. I'll be living with two girls and sharing a bathroom with one of them. The apartment complex is nice; it has walking trails that I'll probably use a lot and a pool that I'll probably use a little. The apartment has a dishwasher, which is a HUGE plus for me - my current apartment doesn't have one and I HATE doing dishes. They also have cable TV there already, which is a plus because my current roommates don't watch TV at all so I ended up paying most of the expense and always feeling like it still wasn't fair to them. I think the best part is that it's a lot closer to work, so I not only save money on gas, but I gain an hour a day of time.

The girls were really nice, responsible, clean, and mature. We talked very comfortably for quite a while, which is always a good sign. I don't need to be BFFs with my roommates (in fact, I tend to keep to myself a lot), but I do want to live with people that I feel comfortable talking to and hanging out with on occasion. These girls definitely fit the bill.

Here's an expense comparison:

Current apartment:
$555 Rent
$35 Utilities
$10 Laundry
$80 Gas
$680 Total

New apartment:
$675 Rent
$60 Utilities
$10 Laundry
$40 Gas
$785 Total

So it's about $100 more per month, but for that I get a dishwasher, an hour a day less commuting time, nicer roommates, more TV channels, a pool, and a nicer neighborhood.

It's not a done deal yet - they're going to let me know tonight - but I'm pretty sure things will work out.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Apartment Shopping and Laptop Stress

Wow, I'm a terrible blogger. You guys must wonder where I go for days at a time. Mostly I just get distracted with other things - usually tv, of course. Most shows are back on after the looooong writers' strike induced hiatus

I've also been looking for a new place to live. One of my current roommates is moving out, and I don't really want to live with the one who's staying, so I'm apartment shopping. I've been looking on Craigslist for another roommate situation, and I've found a couple possibilities, but nothing that sounds like the perfect situation. I want to find something close to work, with nice, quiet roommates. I'd also like to have a good sized room and my own bathroom, but those things are more negotiable. The biggest obstacle is that the closer I get to where I work, the more expensive things tend to be. I don't have a set date that I have to move though, so I'll just keep looking till I find the right situation.

I'm also dealing with a malfunctioning laptop right now, which is not fun at all. The only copy of my budget is on that laptop, so I'm kind of freaking out because I can't get it to start up. I'm going to try again tonight. Hopefully I can at least get it to start in safe mode so I can get some of the files off it. As soon as I figure all of that out, I'll do a networth update.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Netflix vs. Redbox: A TV Girl Smackdown

After discovering Redbox a couple weeks ago, I've been toying with the idea of cancelling my Netflix subscription, but I haven't quite been able to bring myself to do it. In order to make the decision, I've employed a winner take all boxing match between the two.

In the first corner we have Redbox, which lays the first punch with it's price. The cost of Redbox is basically nothing. I can get free rental codes through Inside Redbox, and I'm very diligent about watching the movie that night and returning it the next day, so I don't get hit with fees. Compared to Netflix at $10 a month, which gets me about 8 movies, Redbox is far superior.

In the second corner is Netflix, which lays the second punch with The Queue. I love The Queue so much that I recently discovered that the limit is 500 movies. Nevermind that it would take me about five years, two months, and two weeks (yes, I calculated) to watch that many movies and tv shows, I just love The Queue. I love that I can save shows and movies for later so that I don't forget about them. I also love browsing through the list until I find something I've forgotten about, getting excited about it all over again, and moving it to the top of the list. I love adding, subtracting, and rearranging movies in that thing. It's like a giant To Do List, and combining Television with To Do Lists is basically heaven in my book.

After one good punch on each side, Netflix lands another jab with it's selection. Netflix has just about every movie, tv show, and documentary that you could dream up. Their selection trumps any local video store, and it certainly rises far above Redbox, which consists almost entirely of mainstream movie new releases. For me, the best thing about the Netflix selection is the tv shows. I've discovered and come to love many tv shows through Netflix, and I wouldn't have otherwise watched them because it's too prohibitive to buy them at $50 a pop.

At this point you'd think Netflix was ahead, two punches to one, but Redbox's cost punch was the strongest hit, so they're laying pretty even right now. Netflix allows you to put your account on hold, reserving your queue, but not charging you or sending you any movies. I've decided to do that for now and see how I get along on Redbox only. I may decide to resurrect my Netflix account in the summer when the TV drought hits. We'll see.