Friday, September 30, 2011

SIA 2.0: Day 7 The One (Well, Two) Week Mark! Woot!

Hello, all!  And, a weekly "hello" to my international readers in Russia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia, great to have you on board, mates!  I hope you find this blog isn't too much of a dog's breakfast and you give me and my humor a fair crack of the whip.  To my non-Aussie readers, I should tell you, that last sentence is made up of phrases from an "Aussie Lingo" postcard I have hanging in my office that a former coworker, now friend, sent a few months ago.  Crikey!

I am in an excellent mood today readers, and do you know why?  THERE IS A NEW ADELE VIDEO OUT OH EM GEEEEE! For those of you who don't know me on a personal or even peripheral level, I am what you call "clinically obsessed" with Adele.  When I went to her show at the 9:30 club earlier this summer, I dressed up as her.  Maybe you don't understand the gravity of that statement, we're not talking about a 10 year old at a Selena Gomez concert, or a lesbian at a Bieber show here; I, a 25 year old woman, dressed up as Adele at her concert at the 9:30 club.  I am that serious.  If you've not seen the video yet, do yourselves a favor:

Isn't she just incredible?! And she looks great I would add!  

Okay, enough Adelation (get it? huh?).  It turns out my mother finally read the blog yesterday, on accident at work apparently.  She found it "quite amusing".  Gracias Momz!  Anyhow, she was very excited to share with me a money saving tip.  You see, my mother recognizes that I am a member of DC's social elite, and that I may have a slight drinking problem because I go to happy hour about 3 times a week.  Thus she said to me, "Erz," she said, "I don't know if they do this in DC," (my mom considers DC to be very high class), "but you should find some happy hours with free buffets." 

Normally I would've laughed at her for being "old school".  I mean, the image that pops into my head when I think of happy hours with buffets is of a bunch of people standing around a Holiday Inn bar in the 70s eating whatever they ate in the 70s, fondue I guess.  The only modern day version of this I am acquainted with is the McFaddens "Taco Tuesday" trend...which is both a health and safety violation if you ask me.

Normally, I would've said that readers, except when I was speaking with my mom, I was actually coming home from one such happy hour. I can hear you gasping.  Calm down, breathe, I did NOT go to McFaddens.  I mean, please, have a little faith readers.  Actually this happy hour took place at Casa Nonna in Dupont Circle.  I went with my friend Barcelona (that's her code name, I didn't forget a "from" there corrector-mccorrectorsons), who has as much an appreciation for wine and free food as I do. We were able to get away with splitting one of their "quartitos" (basically a half bottle) of wine, coming out to about $8 each, plus we had some amazing food samplings.  I'm not talking your normal mozzarella sticks and hot wings here (though I die for mozzarella sticks and hot wings, is it football Sunday yet-speaking of, watch out Jets, the Ravens are coming for you, I can't wait to shut Rex Ryan the f' up if-you-know-what-I-mean-okay, rant over).  No, these were A+ food offerings friends.  Squash ravioli, rabbit crostinis (sorry childhood pet Thumper, R.I.P), sausage calzones, grilled vegetable skewers, all for free!

Basically, I had an $8 dinner with wine, and the place was not crowded at all.  I highly recommend it.  Casa Nonna does these happy hours Monday-Friday between 5 and 8 PM.

Well that wraps it up for the week, readers, stop back on Monday when I'm sure to have a couple movie reviews, a tally of my savings/debt reductions so far, and so much more, so much more.

It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday....good luck getting that out of your head now.  Haha!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SIA 2.0: Day 6 Wherein You Laugh at Something I Forgot

Good morrow readers!  You know, this blog has started taking over many other aspects of my life...I'm constantly thinking about what to write, snappy comments, and money making experiments I can try in the coming weeks.  Such it was that I found myself awoken in the middle of last night, with a brilliant idea of something to write in today's entry.  "Genius!," I said to myself, and I briefly thought of writing it down, but I was too tired. 

Well, whatdoyaknow readers, when I woke up today I had completely forgotten my super hilarious idea.  I was devastated.  So, I'd like you all to do me a favor, sitting at your computers, reading this, please utter a little chuckle for the joke that never was, pour some laughter out for my homie.

Yesterday I was incredibly productive and spent almost no money.  After coming home from work, I stopped in a neighborhood grocery store to pick up some things to make dinner.  Okay, so maybe those things included a 4-pack of Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale.  I know, this is kind of cheating, but I count alcohol (in moderation) as "groceries" and have you had Dogfish's Punkin Ale?  It's friggin' delicious readers, okay? Okay.  Although I will not be going back to that grocery store again, when I pointed out to the cashier that he had over-charged me for my beer and neglected to give me my $.37 in change, he just smiled at me creepily and said, "Noooo, eeees riiight."  He had a grill readers, like a "smile for me daddy let me see yo grill" grill.  I was terrified, so rather than stay there and argue, I simply got home as quickly as I could and tried to drink that image out of my head.  It didn't work.

Anyhow, when I got home, I made dinner (enough for two nights), cleaned my kitchen, and then even made lunch to bring with me today.  It was awesome, I was a cooking machine.  Well, I shouldn't really get too high on myself, the dinner I made was cut up hot dogs in baked beans, otherwise known as the hillbilly classic "Frank and Beans".  Yea, I made frank and beans, what of it readers?  I came home, drank a beer, and ate the white-trashiest meal I could make from my pantry.  I'm not ashamed, this is AMERICA, I'll do what I want.

After this self righteous and yummy meal, I settled in to watch the premiere of Suburgatory.  I don't know if any of you watched it, but basically it's got Elton from Clueless and the pirate from Dodgeball, Cheryl Hines, and some random girl who the writers clearly thought would be Emma Stone.  The premise is that Elton moves into the suburbs with his daughter, Emma Stone wannabe, after his girlfriend/wife/I-dunno-I-missed-the-first-3-minutes leaves them.  

Shock of the century, Emma Stone wannabe does not like the suburbs!  It's filled with a lot of pink and green, slutty girls, glamour moms, people who water their lawns every morning, and a ton of Sugar Free Red Bull.  Okay, I do not know which suburbs these writers have been through, but I grew up in the 'burbs, people did not water their lawns daily, we didn't have a country club, and I certainly wasn't slutty (well, not outwardly so).  

Also, if I could make a point about Sugar Free Redbull, it's not a suburban drink.  It's the drink of sorority girls, crack whores, and weight-conscious skater boys.  Oh, and me, I drink Sugar Free Red Bull all the time, it tastes like nothing and makes sure I don't fall asleep on the dance floor when I'm bustin' a move at 2 AM on a Saturday.  However, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT mix Red Bull with makes you do some crazy shiz, or maybe that's just me.  But, all my friends know, if I order a Red Bull and vodka, it means I need to get drunk-and FAST.

Okay, so back to the show, would you believe it, at the end of the show, Emma Stone wannabe realizes that maybe some of the people in the suburbs aren't so bad, and might even be worthwhile human beings. sweet, and yet demeaning to all of middle America at the same time.

In conclusion, the Emma Stone wannabe is pretty terrible, as accented by these overly dramatic voice-overs she does every once and awhile.  "Oh my GOD, I couldn't BELIEVE I was HERE, in the SUBURBS, Did you know I am from NEW YORK? THIS IS A STRANGE NEW ENVIRONMENT FOR ME!" Oh the shenanigans.  But, Cheryl Hines, Ana Gasteyer, the Huskaroo from Weeds, and Pirate Steve infuse the show with enough decent humor to keep the show plugging along.  It might last if the writers stop being such out of touch judgy Mc-cliche-sters.

Did you know you were getting a TV review today?  Sometimes I like to mix it up.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SIA 2.0: Day 5 a.k.a On Why I Don't Care for Zooey Deschanel

Good afternoon lovelies!  So much to share with you today!  First of all, I decided to start a Twitter account for the blog so that I can share with you my random thoughts on politics, pop culture, moneyz, et cetera, et cetera, that pop up between posts.  My handle is @ericasbailout.  Check it out!  For those of you who are twitter-illiterate, there is now a feed on the sidebar of the blog that will track my latest Tweets, so keep checking back and upping my pageviewz.

Second of all, I have two money saving tips for you today!  One is legitimate, and one is not so legitimate.  Let's start with the legitimate one.  Last night, as is my tradition, I gathered with several persons whose identities will remain hidden, to watch Glee.  As you all may remember last week a did a pro/con breakdown of the premiere episode, and my feelings have not changed, suffice it to say that I think Will Schuester gets creepier with every episode.  Also, if we could get as much slow motion Mike Chang as possible this season, I'd appreciate it, kkFoxthanks...Also, I have thoughts about Zooey Deschanel, whose show "New Girl" airs right after Glee...but we'll get to that later.

Anyhoo, on to the money saver.  Before we watched the show, we all grabbed dinner in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.  Now, if you're unfamiliar with DC, let me explain Bloomingdale to you thusly: it is a pocket of young white people, surrounded by a war zone, surrounded by the rest of the city.  So basically, like, imagine if Maroon 5 had a concert in the middle of Detroit, that concert would be Bloomingdale.  

The point of this is to say, if you want to take your life into your hands and go into Bloomingdale, do I have a place for you, Rustik!  Between four of us, we got three pizzas, a couple of drinks (don't worry, I adhered to SIA 2.0 and didn't have any), and FREE popcorn and we all paid between $10 and $15 by ordering the pizzas during happy hour.  What's more, the pizzas were AMAZING...maybe good enough for me to go into Bloomingdale more often.  But let's not get too crazy.  Also, across the street from Rustik is a crazy liquor store.  This place has EVERYTHING: Mad Dog 20/20, Verdi, FourLoko, even like seven flavors of Pinnacle (including chocolate strawberry) for when you're feeling classy.

On to the second tip which involves how to squeeze survival needs out of your job.  If your office is like mine, you are both overworked and underpaid...and you probably can't ever take a lunch break.  But not because your boss says "don't take a lunch break" but he says something tricky like, "You're certainly entitled to one, but noone around here really takes them." Read: Judge judge judge judgey judge judgerson.  However, I figured out this week how to recoup your losses a bit in this field.  Organizing office meetings! 

I know what you're thinking, no one likes organizing meetings, it's intern work.  But trust me on this, whenever possible, volunteer to help with meetings.  More often than not, you'll need to arrange catering for the meeting and your boss could probably not give a good God damn what you order.  So, take the reigns, order what you like and order a lot of it (within reason).  This way, when no one at the meeting eats the food because they don't want to appear weak and fat in front of their reap the rewards of the leftovers!  Ka-ching!

Okay, so, let's get back to Zooey Deschanel, and my problems therein.  I read an entry today on Thought Catalog asking why people are so obsessed with Ryan Gosling.  I wonder the same thing (not about Gosling of course, I mean, c'mon...just look at the guy, he broke up a street fight for goodness sake) but about Zooey Deschanel, I just don't get it. You see, readers I watch "New Girl" it's kind of hilarious, but this causes an internal struggle with me because I do not care for Zooey Deschanel.  You may ask yourselves why this is, after all Zooey Deschanel is a cute enough girl, she doesn't suck as an actress, in fact she's quite funny.  I however, would argue, that she peaked in "Elf".  The long and short of it is this: I think Zooey Deschanel is trying too hard.  Have you noticed for example that she can't seem to wear a dress that in some way does not appear vintage?  Everyone wears sweatpants or a jersey dress now and again Zooey!  Also, did you know that she's married to the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie?  Yea, that's a fact...I can't imagine anything that could scream "Look at me! I'm so indie! Forget about that time I was in Failure to Launch!" more than that.  

But perhaps, my biggest problem with Zooey Deschanel is the fact that she insists on singing in  Singing in the shower in "Elf", karaoke in "500 Days of Summer", the theme music in her Cotton commercial and now she even sings the theme song for her new show!  We get it!  You have a band, it's called She and Him and it sounds like The Weepies or the music they'd play at the hospital if they needed to knock you out and they ran out of anesthesia.  Stop hitting us over the head with it!  Lest we not forget, you were in "Yes Man" not too long're not doing yourself any favors with movie choices like that.

What I'm saying is, Zooey, pump the brakes on the hispter/indie stuff okay?  I promise people will still like you...because...I guess you're pretty funny.  In the words of my biffle Bedilia, love you for you Zooey.  Listen to a Taylor Swift album once in awhile, eat at a chain restaurant, and for the love of Ray-J get some clothes that were made after 1975, okay?  We'll get through this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SIA 2.0: Day 4

Good late morning amigos!  It is the brunching hour, and as such I write to you whilst I starve, trying to hold off on eating my lunch until at least noon.  Luckily, it's just Chicken Noodle Soup today (Chicken Noodle Soup with a soda on the side), so there's not too much temptation to resist.

By the way, in case you missed it yesterday, my blog for the Fair Elections Legal Network was posted!  Check it out! I'm really smart about fair elections, I swear.

Before I go any further, today I have a shout out for Hot Donna's friend Unpronounceable who complimented my taste in beer after reading that I enjoy Loose Cannon from the Heavy Seas brewery.  Loose Cannon-officially endorsed by EricaNeedsABailout.Blogspot.Com!  If I write this enough times, maybe they'll send me some free beer?  Please? 

I understand if at this point you guys are having some trouble keeping track of my code names, so here's a brief refresher:

Jefe-Friend whom I helped move to a sketchy neighborhood
Smirnoff-Friend who went to "Ay Carmela!" with Jefe and I
Hot Donna-My Roommate
Unpronouceable-Hot Donna's friend who likes beer
Harmony-My football-watching companion
Meredith Grey-My Friend who sent me the awesome budget spreadsheet

I think that covers everyone so far...let me know if I missed anyone.

To recap yesterday's spending journey, I was expense free save for reloading my Metro card which fits squarely into my "transportation" expense category.  Other than that, it was a completely free day!

I am noticing an alarming trend, however, with regards to my aspiration to cook at home more.  You see readers, I sometimes start the day thinking, "Wow, what a rare occurence, there is nothing on my social calendar this evening.  That's strange, is that right?  Geez, it is!  A night to myself...I don't even know what to do with myself, I know!  I'll cook!"

As you may remember reading earlier, one of the goals of SIA 2.0 is to cook more so that I eat out less/potentially spend less on groceries by using things I've had in my pantry for ages.  The problem is this.  I have a very glamorous day job.  I literally spend hours on end sitting at my desk, drinking terrible coffee, watching Hulu, and scanning my Google Reader which consists of such advanced blogs as GoFugYourself, Wonkette, and Eat the Damn Cake.  Readers, it is simply EXHAUSTING.

By the time I get home, my aspirations to channel my inner Jose Andres (my most favorite chef ever) and make baked salmon in parchment with a maple glaze and avocado foam on a bed of rosemary infused rice finished with salsa "air" (because it is Jose Andres-inspired), have become simple whispers inaudible over my other thoughts which say, "Just eat these tortilla chips until you are not hungry anymore."  This leaves me with fewer supplies in my pantry, and no freezable leftovers or lunches for the next few days.

So what do I do?  I know a lot of you manage to sustain the working/cooking balance with great success, am I using the wrong recipes? Is there a certain order of things I should follow when I get home?  What works for you guys?  I'm looking for recipes, tips, your thoughts in the comments and I'll include them in a summary blog post tomorrow.  Please, I'm so desperate and I only have half a bag of tortilla chips left! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

SIA 2.0: Days 2 and 3, and an overdraft fee? Frick!

Good morning, Team Bailout, how are we all today?  I myself am doing well, apart from the sore throat I have after watching 7 hours of football with my good friend, Harmony, and the red eyes I seem to have acquired after a night of debauchery.  They make me look all Black Swan bad ass and like I'm constantly crying at the same time (note to self: do not buy Forever 21 glitter make up after the age of 15).  Also, no time for makeup this morning, so happy Monday co-workers, you get to look at this hot tranny mess all day long.

Also, I wanted to note that on my way into work today, I encountered not one, but two, small, blonde, sorority types listening to "Power" by Kanye West on their iPods.  Somehow, I do not think they were Kanye's target audience.  Give it up girls, you're not impressing anyone, switch over to Train like we all know you want to (sorry to my friends who actually like Train, I know you're out there).

Let's recap the weekend, shall we?  First of all a big shout out to Meredith Grey (if you haven't caught on by now, everyone on this blog gets code names, mostly for my sake, I don't want to be associated with these people in real life.  Just kidding!) for providing me with the most excellent budget spreadsheet I've ever seen!  You guys can find it here.  It's a great tool, especially for someone just starting to monitor spending, not only can you track your day to day spending (the point of SIA 2.0), but it will show you trends over time so you can see in black and white how to save money.  Thank you, Meredith!

Okay, back to the weekend.  Friday I managed to spend no money at all!  I stayed in for dinner and spent the evening catching up on my DVR'd shows.  Project Runway SPOILER in 3...2...1...
Thank you so much Heidi for getting rid of that weird British/American/Lady/Blonde Asian guy, he was the worst.  Also, if you noticed, whenever he felt like he was in trouble in the competition, he started pretending like he didn't speak English.  You grew up in England, homes, noone's buying it.

Saturday was where it all started to go a little downhill.  I started out the morning making absolutely a-mahzing homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes (pictures forthcoming).  Using stuff I already had in my kitchen, plus a can of pumpkin that I bought last week for like $2, I can now make them for the rest of the season!  That's at least a $50 savings over two months, go me!  I used this recipe, and highly recommend it, though my roommate Hot Donna and I decided it maybe could use the addition of some cloves during the milk/pumpkin heating process.

Then I went to flamenco class, which was prepaid, so no expense there.  Oh, what's that you say?  You want me to elaborate on my flamenco prowess?  Well I'm not sure I...okay, well, if you insist. Yes, Team Bailout (do you guys like this label? Feel free to suggest other ideas in the comments), I take a flamenco class once a week.  I took flamenco when I studied abroad in Spain, and since it's a dance that fat girls can do, I fell deeply in love with it.  So this fall I decided to dust off my tacones and pick it back up.  11-year-old Alex, whom I take class with, thinks I'm doing very well.

Saturday night I spent money on two cabs (transportation budget)?  But no money on drinks, which was good.  I splurged on McDonalds at the end of the night, but it just had to be done.  I can't really reason that one out except that I got McDonalds with Hot Donna, so it was a "social meal"...okay, yea, that fits into SIA 2.0.

Then Sunday came my budget busting nemesis, football.  I simply cannot watch football without drinking beer.  And, out of superstition, I cannot watch the Ravens play (they are my team...what time is it? game time! must protect this la la) without drinking a brew from Baltimore's brewery Heavy Seas.  Now, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon (what I drink) is more pricey than your average Miller Light.  So, my bill for football adds up rather quickly, combine that with the food that I order so I don't pass out whilst drinking beer for 7 hours, and Sundays become very difficult for me.  I tried to drink only one beer per game, but our waiter made me feel so guilty, I even threw a coffee in the mix...but once the Ravens got on a roll, so did I, and the day ended with $7 purple shots for all!

I think I can definitely do a better job of controlling my Sunday spending, but I also think that depending on the rest of my week, I may be able to bend the rules on Sunday a bit, right? At least during football season?  What say ye, Team Bailout?

Oh! And if you're wondering about the title, I encountered my first overdraft fee this week.  I didn't time out my bank transfers correctly and stupid Pepco cashed a check that pushed me over the the limit.  Grrr....Pepco...if I didn't need electricity...I swear...I would...well...I would not pay them.

*Update - Here's the blog entry for the Fair Elections Legal Network that I promised on Friday.  Ch-ch-check it out y'all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

SIA 2.0: Day 1

What a late post for me today homies!  I know you were all just waiting at the edge of your computer screens for my next entry, my writing is just so engrossing, try to contain yourselves.  Actually, don't, everyone knows I love a little adoration.  One of my favorite stories to tell is how I was going through the drive-through at my hometown Burger King once and the woman who gave me my order was like "Oh my gosh! I know you, you were in that play down at the high school!  Oh my, you were just so funny!". And, you know, I was funny, readers, I really was.

Enough about my illustrious acting career (maybe later I'll tell you all about my experience playing Helen Keller in the Fall Drama, as a FRESHMAN! Yea, kind of a big deal).  Let's get down to brass tacks, the new and improved SIA 2.0, hooray! I imagine if we were talking about SIA 2.0 in real life, it would be much like this SNL skit (in which I would be Kristen Wiig, of course).  

Yesterday was the first day of the revised plan.  I had already made plans before the first iteration of the SIA to go to dinner and a play with my two friends, Jefe and Smirnoff (names have been changed to protect the innocent).  We went to dinner at The Heights, which I highly recommend and was able to stick to my new spending plan by ordering just my entree with no extra drinks, appetizers, anything.  All things considered, the meal would've come in at about $15, not too shabby!

Note I said "would've".  You see, I didn't actually end up paying for the meal, as Jefe and Smirnoff felt the need to pay for me as a much-belated birthday gift. In a hushed whisper while rapidly putting away my debit card, I told them this wasn't necessary.  Here is an excellent tip I took away from the experience: If you are not in debt, buy yourself into it with birthday dinners, gifts for friends and family, rounds of drinks for other people, and other generous gestures.  Then, when you are in debt, you can use the guilty consciences of all the people you were buying things for to skate by for free for awhile!  What a great investment!

After dinner, it was onto the show.  We were seeing "Ay! Carmela!" at the GALA Hispanic Theater.  We were first drawn to the show, as "Ay, Carmela!" was a phrase we often uttered at our former study abroad director in Spain.  We all got drinks before the show, which I counted as okay being it was "social drinking" and I only had one. However, I ran into a situation as it was a cash only bar, and I had no cash!  Jefe paid for my drink and I gave him a verbal "I.O.U".  This leads me to another tip (devised by Jefe), when going out with friends, go to cash only places, but bring no cash!  This way, they'll pay for you, and later on will be too drunk to remember you owe them money! Win-win.

As it turned out, the show was really top notch.  The two actors gave astounding performances (coming from a fellow actor, that is an excellent critique, let me tell you) and there were both strobe lights and partial nudity involved! Jackpot!   

All in all, it was a very economical day.  This weekend will be my first "city" weekend on the SIA, so I'm sure I'll have plenty to update you all on when I return to updating on Monday.

*Sidenote: While "I Need A Bailout", or "INAB", is certainly my most precious endeavor, it's not the only blog I write for at the moment.  In fact, I'll be posting an entry on the Fair Elections Legal Network Blog later today.  Check it out, I think I make a pretty compelling argument about student voting in Maine.  Once I get the link, I'll be sure to post it here.

**Update: Things got ca-razy towards the end of the day, so no FELN blog post until Monday it would seem.  Oh the suspense! Can you handle it?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Hey y'all!  Welcome back to the blog!  As you may or may not know, we have come to the end of the first week of my Spending Ice Age (copyright pending).  The week has been easier than I thought it might be, but still no picnic, and I will admit that I cheated just a smidgen yesterday.  Read along, and make sure to stay with me to the end when I'll make a SWEEPING DECLARATION (ooooooooooh, aaaaaaaaaah).  

Before the SIA commenced, I had plans to go to a documentary with a coworker, which I thought was safe because it was free.  However, I was tempted by some cheap appletinis and tortilla espanola into going to a happy hour at a nearby restaurant called Panache.  By the way, I fully endorse Panache's HH, the drinks were great and cheap and the selection of HH foods was am-ah-zing.  Plus, the place is super classy so you can feel like Anna Wintour whilst chowing down on some wings (as if the Queen Wintour would ever!).  Plus, there was bread service!  At the happy hour! Talk about a gold mine.

Clearly, this was not an opportunity I could pass up, but I kept my total down by sticking to two drinks and one food item.  The documentary we went to after was also exceptional, if you get a chance to check it out you rully should, like rully rully, it's called "Precious Knowledge" and it will hopefully be streaming online in the near future.  Here's the trailer:

Yet another example of why Jan Brewer sucks...hard.  Yea, that's right Jan Brewer, you are terrible and I gotta say, I don't like you very much.  Come at me, Brewer, come at me!  But please avoid my face/hair, it's, in the words of my good friend Todd, "the moneymaker".

Speaking of making money, you may have noticed that ads have been placed on the blog.  Google has a great feature that allows you to sign up to put ads on your blog for free and then they send you whatever money you end up making on them.  I anticipate this will earn me at least an additional $.50 (that's right, cents) a month.  Rollin' in those dolla' dolla' bills y'all.

Let's get to the stone cold facts of the matter, here is where I stand after a week of the SIA:

Savings-$505.98 (a gain of $5.98)
Checking Account-$200.00 (double what it was last week, but still not awesome)
Credit Card Debt-$4,456.68 (a decrease of $243.32! pat on the back for me!)

Clearly, parts of the SIA are working, while I'm not gaining a lot in savings, I am (at least this week) chipping away at my credit card debt.  However, I don't think I'm forming any habits that are going to be sustainable solutions to my spending.  

As such, I've spoken with my mother, coworkers, biffles, and my therapist/financial adviser...and I've decided to make a SWEEPING DECLARATION...brace yourselves... drum-roll it is:


Yes that's right boys, girls, and in-betweens, I have thought over some changes to the SIA that I think will help me continue to save money, and develop good long term spending habits.  These are the new rules:

  1. No spending money alone...this means no movies by myself, no delivery meals, no shopping, no books, DVDs, clothes, anything that is meant for me to enjoy by myself (that's what she said).
  2. No concessions at movies unless they are free (I'm a Regal Cinema P.I.M.P so sometimes I get free stuff there, don't hate.)
  3. No alcohol when dining out, as well as no appetizers, requests that result in up-charges, or desserts.
  4. Only 2 drinks can be purchased when out drinking socially (meaning I will be pre-gaming with a lot of $3 buck chuck and Andre-where-the-hell-is-my-chiffon-Spumante in the coming months)
  5. Only one purchased lunch allowed per week.
  6. Only one gourmet coffee purchase allowed per week-and no pastries, fatty!

With these rules combined, I think I can keep saving money and paying down my debt, while not slipping into a deep depression from lack of human contact.  After the first week of this "SIA 2.0" as I like to call it, I'll start adding on new things to try each week.  Things like, cooking at home every night for a week, finding a random "gig" on Craigslist, trying to sell trash I found behind my apartment know, the usual.  Come with me fair readers, it promises to be interesting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SIA: Day Six...Really? Only Day Six?

Well, hello!  I didn't see you there.  I'd say "Guten Tag", but it would seem my German reader has mysteriously disappeared from my Page Views, no "Guten Tag" for you!  Russia's still hanging with me though, so I can't be too upset.

In other news, I sort of bent the rules of the SIA yesterday.  Not only did I buy beer at a local grocery store, but I also took a cab home from my friend's place.  In my mind, I justified this as pertaining to the "groceries" and "transportation" sections of my necessities budget, but I'm not sure that's quite fair game.  I suppose I could've metro'ed home and avoided drinking altogether, but it was social drinking, so I feel like it fits into the modified plan I created yesterday.

Speaking of, I've heard but one comment on that modified plan (thank you random commenter with a string of letters and numbers as a name, whose identity I'm pretty sure I know)...where are the rest of you, readers?  I work so hard for you, why don't you love me? Now that I'm not buying food, I'm sustaining myself on attention.  Feed me!

The social drinking took place at a group viewing of the Glee premiere. I'll keep the identities of those who watched with me a secret, I know for some of them that Glee is a secret shame.  They all had seen the 3D movie too, just saying.  While we're on the subject of the Glee premiere, I've got a couple of thoughts, allow me to present them as a sort of good v. bad list (oh, and I should probably say something like SPOILER ALERT for those of you that haven't seen it, see readers? I look out for you, all I want is for you to like me.  Please like me!):

  • Opening the season with the same funny "news update" as last year: Good!
  • Having Will Schuester awkwardly wake up next to Emma and tell her he has morning wood: Bad! (Sidenote-Did they do the deed yet? That was not made clear, I'm thinking no.)
  • Cutting the Sam/Mercedes plot-line short and instead having the chubby black girl date a chubby black guy, *yawn*-Bad!
  • Bringing Blaine to WMHS-Good!
  • Everything Blaine wore that was not a Warblers uniform-Bad!
  • Having the two whitest characters on the show sing a song from "The Wiz"-Bad!
  • Making Quinn a "Skank"-Good!
  • Quinn's lowered weird voice after becoming a "Skank"-So bad! Seriously, was she going for a Christian Bale as Batman thing?
  • More Mike Chang-Good! Thank you sir, may I have another?
  • Rachel and Kurt realizing they're maybe not so special after all-Good! An ego check was really needed.
  • The incorporation of one of "The Glee Project" winners-Good! Can't wait for Damien!
  • Ending the show with "You Can't Stop the Beat"-ORGASMIC, seriously.

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.  In summation, I bent on the SIA a bit, but today I should be back in the "no spending" zone, everything on my agenda is free, free, free.  Look out for a week in review update tomorrow with updated totals!  Get excited!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SIA: Day Five - Time to change?

Today loyal admirers, I am faced with an existential quandary.  I've chosen to name it thusly, in the style of one of my most beloved Lifetime movies, "Spending Ice Age: One Broke Girl In a Big World-Not Without My Spanx; The Erica Story #IsItSelfish?"

Yea, ho-kay, here's what that boils down to; lately I've been contemplating if the whole idea of the SIA is selfish.  When I first proposed the idea, a couple of my friends were skeptical.  "No movies?" they said, "No dinners?", they continued..."No way!" they concluded.  Not only did my wonderful friends think this task was out of my reach, but they got a little concerned about how it might affect them.  

You see, my fantastic, gorgeous (I'm assuming) readers, I have what I often refer to as the "SAD", but is more commonly known as "Social Anxiety Disorder".  This is not just my own assessment, but in fact several reputable doctors have made this diagnosis and prescribed me meds to "keep the crazy in check" as I like to say.  As a result, I am the kind of friend who is willing to go anywhere and do anything because I fear if I don't, I'll be iced out of the group.  Also I do these things because I really enjoy them, but sometimes...that's not so much the case.  Here's how I'd react in the following hypothetical, for instance:

Friend: "Hey, Do you want to go eat hot molten lava and then run around barefoot in a crack house for awhile?"
Me: "Is everyone going?"
Friend: "Yea, so far it's Scooby, P-dawg, Chinese Elvis, and John, you in?"
Me: (in my head I say, "I hate those people," and then...) "Yea, I'm down, sounds good."
Friend: "Cool, I'll pick you up in my El Camino circa 9."
Me: Awesome.

So, my friends were worried that I would no longer go with them to do crazy shiznit as a result of the spending freeze.  That is kind of true, I have sort of cut myself off from all possible social interaction as a result of this venture.  Is that unfair to my peers who so desperately desire my presence at all times?

Also, I'm kind of beginning to wonder if this whole arrangement is unfair to me, and setting some bad habits.  I'm worried once the spending freeze is over, instead of having learned how to save more and spend less, I will be so deprived of movies and my favorite restaurants and being able to drink in bars and not actually just stand there ordering soda water all night, that I'll go completely off the chain and buy the entire city of DC.  This occurred to me after realizing that I have been craving buffalo wings for the past 72 hours in anticipation of yesterday's game.  Turns out, I didn't end up going to football, so I didn't have to decide whether or not to spend money there...but I did still dream about wings last night.  

Furthermore, while my Lean Cuisine lunch today was wholly satisfying (eye roll), I found myself craving a chicken salad sandwich from my local lovely Asian deli.  Isn't that unfair to them? That I'm not buying?  IT'S A RECESSION, I NEED TO STIMULATE THE THE ECONOMY!

So what do you think, readers?  Time to reformulate?  Maybe I only spend money towards social things?  Is that quitting? Cheating?  Please help me, I can't make my own decisions!

Monday, September 19, 2011

SIA: Days Three and Four

Good morning dear readers!  And a very special "alo" to my readers in Russia and Germany!  Not sure how you guys found the blog, but I hope you are enjoying it.

Well, before I begin detailing my spending-free weekend, let me just tell you about the trek that was my journey into work this morning.  It was the commute from hell, and I know my friend Mike Kohn over at Borderstan would sincerely NOT approve.

So I get up relatively easily, get ready quickly and get out the door a little earlier than usual.  Things are going great, the weather is loverly (spelling on purpose, points if you can identify the reference!) - Fall has definitely graced DC with it's presence - and I am able to get to the metro and on a train quickly.  As I slide onto the train car (between two ladies who are purposely blocking the door so they can use the mini-walls next to it as leaning posts), I try to grab a rail to my right.  At this point readers I should tell you that I am what they call "a short ass bitch" so I live and die by the metro rails.  Anyhoo, I was unable to access that particular rail because some little lady had wrapped her arm around it and was leaning against it with her entire body.  

"Oh?", I thought, "You've claimed that entire pole for yourself, have you?  Not really willing to share, are we?  Well that's okay, I can tell by the copy of Lolita in your bag...which has been generously annotated to bring it down to your reading level that you must not be the brightest bulb on the line.  That must suck, please, by all means, usurp that clearly have practice doing that (if you know what I mean)."

I'm so bad, but these are things I only think, and never say...except maybe passive aggressively with a comment whispered under my breath or an eye-roll.

At this point I grab the rail to my left which a pleasant woman is happily willing to share and away we go.  Once we arrive at the next stop, however, this begin to go TERRIBLY AWRY!  The train operator wants everyone to get where they are going - fast - so he barely lets the door open before slamming it closed again.  Apparently, someone was not ready for this and got either themselves or something on their person stuck in one of the doors.  The doors open...more people climb in...the doors shut people...close. Honestly, for ten minutes the doors were opening and closing more than Lady Gaga's mouth at a Gay Pride rally...because she's talking...geeezzzz, get your heads out of the gutter.

So, I know where this is headed, and you probably do too...I kill everyone on the train Chuck Norris style.


They eventually offload the entire train and I have to walk the rest of the way to work.  I was late, but as most of you know, I hate my job so I didn't really care.

My commitment to the SIA was tested during this ordeal, because there was nothing I wanted more after getting out of the devil cave that was the metro station than a giant, extra shot, Pumpkin Spice Latte (a moment of silence in reverie of this angelic beverage, por favor-aaaahaaaahAAAhaaaaaaaaaaah - that's me singing it's heavenly praises).  But I stayed strong and got to work just in time to get a hot steaming cup of mediocre drip coffee - sarcastic "yum".

Well, this entry is dragging on, so let me give you a quick breakdown of the spending situation over the past few days.  As expected, I had to pay for my friend's wedding gift and several drinks at the after party (well deserved drinks, I might add).  Thankfully, due to the generosity of my parents and the wedding reception, I didn't have to pay for any meals over the weekend, and was able to stick to my SIA religiously.

Tonight will be another test as I'm going to watch Monday Night Football at a local bar.  Can you enjoy a game at a bar and not eat wings and drink beer?  Isn't that unfair to the bartenders/waiter?  But my social life will suffer if I don't go!  Oh the drama of it all...

Friday, September 16, 2011

SIA: Day Two

One day down, roughly 30 more to go.  Yesterday actually ended up being cheaper than I thought, as my amazing friends who were moving into an amazing apartment in an amazi- well, umm -let's just say "in a neighborhood", offered to drive me home after helping them and paid for my dinner out of their gratitude.  Considering that I didn't do much except look pretty next to their truck while they lifted increasingly heavy boxes, I'd say they overpaid.

That brings us to today!  Another day of unexpected frugality!  You know, loyal readers, that I am attending a wedding this weekend.  It's actually a pretty emotional time for me as the person getting married was my kindergarten boyfriend.  We spent many wonderful afternoons together, couples skating at Skateland, trading crayon drawings of...of scribbles basically, let's be honest, and sipping sweet juice boxes together at the lunch table.  Then in second grade he switched classrooms and sent his new girlfriend over to my cubbyhole at the end of the day with a Post-It note saying he broke up with me.  YES I GOT BROKEN UP WITH ON A POST IT NOTE!  And I did it before Carrie Bradshaw made it "cool", okay? Okay.

Anyway, I was going to have to pay to take a train home this weekend for the wedding, but it turns out my wonderful father has the day off and has offered to drive down and pick me up. Yay Dad!  Also, when I arrived at work today, some angel sent from God had set out trays of breakfast pastries in our kitchen.  Free breakfast, woot!  I will still need to pay for my friend's Wedding Card (is that a thing? I mean, you say "Birthday Card" and "Thank You Card", but do you ever say "Wedding Card"?), so that will set me back a few dollars, and I need to reload my metro card...but other than that, I shouldn't encounter any other expenses today...I'm on a roll!

Tomorrow is the wedding, so there will likely be no entry.  But I already know that I'll be spending money on drinks and the gift, so I'll factor that in on Sunday...which is also the maybe what I meant to say there is that I'll factor it in on Monday.

Happy weekend all!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SIA: Day One

Well, here we go, day one of the "Spending Ice Age", which I've abbreviated to the "SIA", coincidentally also the name of one of my favorite singers, have you heard any of her stuff other than "Breathe Me" you pseudo-emo readers, you?  No?  Do yourself a favor, check this out:

Okay, so the video is a bit wacked, but the song is very much fun.  Now, back to the SIA (all caps).  Today is the very first day, so far I have spent no money except for a few dollars on a pre-paid metro card.  Theoretically, I shouldn't have to pay for anything today except two cabs to get to/from my friend's place to help him move.  Yes, I am fully aware that this is kind of "cheating", because why can't I just take mass transit?  Well, I will answer that question with a question; would you, say you were a gorgeous female traveling alone, venture out to one of the most dangerous areas of the city without a little cabbie protection?  I thought not.

You may ask yourselves, why would the friend of clearly such a well-to-do urbanite live in such squalor?  Two words: cheap rent.  Yes, economic living runs in my circle of amigos, thus I find myself moving boxes from one shifty neighborhood to another in the middle of the night (when they could get the cheapest ZipCar, see how smart we are?!)

Anyhow, I'm finding on this first day that I want to buy things more than ever.  Suddenly the soup I brought from home for lunch is unappealing, I desperately want to go to friends' comedy shows that I've never given a second thought before, and my shoes seem a bit more disheveled than yesterday, I MUST GET A NEW PAIR!  But no, if anything these thoughts show I am addicted to irresponsible spending, and this is just the withdraw phase.  I must soldier on through the coming month and stick to my pledge.  It'll be worth it in the end, right? Please say that's right.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Spending Ice Age

Often, among my friends, the term "spending freeze" gets thrown around, mostly to get out of things we don't want to do.  Example, "Hey, do you want to go see that new Michael Bay movie?"..."Oh, I wish's just, you know, I'm kind of on this whole spending freeze thing."

This however, is a loose term, people will break from their "spending freezes" all the time.  Whether they decide to buy a pair of boots they like, go to a movie they're dying to see, or attend a social engagement (oooooh! fancy!) they just cannot pass on...the whole idea just becomes completely meaningless.

Thus, a so-called "spending freeze" will do nothing for me in my current situation.  I need a full on Spending Ice Age (copyright pending-use of caps necessary because it is really that serious).  

The long and short of it is this, during the Spending Ice Age, I will absolutely not spend any money outside of my necessities for daily life.  No meals out, no drinks after work, no movies, no concerts. I expect those last two to be particularly difficult; I am a total cinephile (sp? who cares?), and as much as it pains me to say it, in the hypothetical situation described above, I probably would've said "Michael Bay? Hellz yea! I hope there's lots of explosions and hot girls looking dramatically at disaster scenes."

Here's the breakdown as I see it, I have the following necessary payments each month:

Groceries (no meals out, no delivery)
Bills (Cable and Electric)
Medical Expenses (not that serious, but just in case-don't freak)
Recurring pre-scheduled payments (Netflix subscription, Alumni Donation)
Credit Card Payments

I think that about covers everything I absolutely must pay to survive every month.  YES THE NETFLIX SUBSCRIPTION IS NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL!  DO NOT QUESTION THIS!

So the goal is, only spend money on these items starting with my next paycheck for at least one month.  Using the savings from each week, I will start to rebuild my savings account and pay down my credit card debt.  

When is my next pay day, you ask?  Well, that's kind of rude to ask don't you think...I'll tell you anyway, it's tomorrow.  Starting tomorrow the Spending Ice Age commences, wish me luck!*

*okay so one tiny little detail, I have to pay for a friend's wedding gift this weekend so that will have to be factored in...and I mean, I can't not drink at a wedding...golly this is going to be disaster...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Penny for my thoughts?

I read something on PostSecret a few weeks back, where someone revealed that they thought all their problems would be solved if food didn't have calories.  I thought, "Yes! Exactly! Like I mean that's just...yea, they get it."

Then I realized, I don't have to worry about food and calories, because based on my current financial about 2 months I'm going to be flat broke and eating Ramen every night anyhow.  Yay for excessive sodium!

See, here's the thing, I'm friggin' poor.  Clearly I learned nothing from our nation's most recent fiscal struggles.  I watched "True Life: I Can No Longer Afford My Lifestyle" and thought, "Wow, that must be really difficult, I'm so glad I'm not in that position, and that I'm not a former Wall Street d-bag."  I suppose I should've paid more attention because guess what? I can no longer afford my lifestyle.

I blame society really, I mean, no one tells you that when you leave college, and start supporting yourself, that you HAVE TO STOP LIVING LIKE A COLLEGE STUDENT!  Did you know that? Oh you did?  Well screw you beyotch, I didn't.  No more meal plans, free stuff, and book buy-backs to get you through the winter and summer months.  What a raw deal!

So here's where I find myself, 25 years old, hopelessly gorgeous with an absolutely sparkling personality (okay, maybe that's stretching it, you've read the post, you know what's up), and pretty much flat broke.  Here are the stats:

Checking Account-$100
Credit Card Balance-$4,700
Amount needed to get back on solid financial footing-$10,000 (by my estimate)

Yea, those numbers aren't good, especially when you consider that I've chosen to live in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the District of Columbia, that I can't cook to save my life and so eat almost every meal out, and that my social life forces me to drink away about 50% of my disposable income with my borderline alcoholic friends (love you guys!).  I know the situation could be a lot worse, and I am so lucky that right now I am out of school, with a job, and only myself to support.  I truly empathize with those people who are in different circumstances.  The intention here is to keep myself from getting into even more trouble than I'm already in, to put the brakes on my descent into squalor. 

A change needs to be made if I want to save myself from the perils of moving back home.  That's what this blog is about.  I'll be tracking my journey (hopefully) out of debt over the coming months.  I'll share my many ill conceived ideas to save money, post advice from family, friends, and experts, and hopefully tell a good story or two along the way.

If you've invested your time in reading this intro post, then I think you should go ahead and follow along.  At the very least you get to laugh at someone else's problems for a minute.  Schadenfreude!