Woo hoo! Week 1 is done. That makes me a fourth of the way through my Frugal February experiment.  I thought I’d do a quick check in.

Here’s everything I spent money on this week:

Sat 2/1

  • Whole Foods 52.41
  • laundry 10.40
  • coffee for two and one caramel macaron 5.50
  • bridge toll 5

Sun 2/2

  • Trader Joe’s 30 ( I didn’t really need more groceries, but I had a car for the day. Normally when I go to TJ’s it’s a 30 minute walk each way.)

Mon 2/3

  • train to work (BART) 3.70
  • concert cover 6
  • one terrible cocktail 9 🙁
  • drunken pizza 8 (sigh)
  • drunken Red Bull 3 😀

Tues 2/4

  • Philz coffee 2.25 (Philz is always worth it)

Wed 2/5

  • BART 3.70
  • Insanity DVD set 50 (pricey, but I’m counting this towards health)
  • cold medicine 6 (achoo)

Thurs 2/6

  • BART 3.70
  • crab and tomato noodle soup 9.50
  • latte 4

Fri 2/7

  • BART 3.70
  • laundry 7


How’d I do?…

Food/Coffee Costs (100 budget/wk)- I categorized the Red Bull and coffees under food costs and came in with 34 cents to spare! DAMN! WOOO! Success! This is big for me because I always always seem to be spending an insane amount of money on food.

Health (No budget on this)- $56 Basically for about a week or so I had been trying to watch Insanity videos via YouTube and sketchy Asian sites and it was a miserable failure with our crappy internet. I found a woman selling her DVDs on Craiglist and thought it was a good deal, considering that the original DVD sets are about 150 bucks. This still feels like a splurge, but I’m giving myself a pass because it’s not breaking my original rules.

Laundry (No budget) – $17 because I did laundry twice this week. Normally I spread out my laundry to about 10-14 days, but whatever.

Transportation (No budget)- $19.80. It rained all week, so I took the train to work. But geez, it adds up, hunh?

Everything else/Splurge money (50/wk) – The coffee/macaron, concert, cocktail, and lunch out at work left me with $20.00 leftover. WOO! Rolling this $ over to next week!


 General Thoughts So Far…

I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the week since I’d spent a large chunk of my food and fun budgets on expensive groceries and going out, but things slowed down once the workweek started. Besides the one cocktail I had on Monday, I had no other alcohol this week, which is kind of unusual for me, but a good thing I think.

Whenever I bring my lunch in to work I kind of hit a mental breaking point by Thursday. By Thursday I just don’t give a fuck. I guess you can see that above. I didn’t even really want that latte! I just wanted to get out of the office.

This upcoming week I’m going to try really hard to spend less on groceries so I can go out for dinner or grab a drink or two outside the house. I’m thinking that I’ll do this by planning my meals for the week around what’s in my pantry. I’ll also be purchasing all of my veggies from the cheapie asian market, and then buying the rest of my groceries at the regular grocery store and not Whole Foods.  For my fun money I’m thinking that I might spend the $ on a nice dress for this event I have to go to on Monday. Frivolous, but if I stay in budget, why not?



SNL-dont buy stuff you cant afford from Dean Francis on Vimeo.


Lately I’ve been feeling a little frustrated with my finances. Normally I run a tight budget ship (I mean, I check multiple times a day…), but a series of unexpected healthcare and holiday related expenses have put me behind my savings goals. While I contribute a healthy amount to my retirement accounts, my personal savings has not moved in several months!!! With that in mind I worked extra time this month, had several “No Spend Days” and have sold several hundred dollars worth of goods on eBay, yet still I’m not getting ahead! UGHHH!!!!

Drastic measures must be taken, and I love a good experiment.

So last year I gave up a lot of things in February- I stopped drinking, I was vegan and sugar free. That was… interesting. Kind of terrible, but I survived. In the hopes for a good shakeup (and lots of money saved!) I’ve decided to do a “Spending Diet*” this February. And I’ll be blogging about it. Because admitting to my friends and family that I can’t control my spending for a month sounds deeply humiliating to me.

So, here’s how my “diet” will work. Based on what I saw from my expenses last month, I  drew up a list of things that are okay to spend money on. And then I’ve got $200 dollars of play money to spend on everything else (comedy shows, clothes, yarn, new sneakers). With $200 I’ll have to be careful. I think I’ll probably have to use that money for social obligations, honestly. You can’t just go out for drinks with someone and drink water. It’s just not worth it.

OK to Spend List

  • Rent/Utilities/Household supplies/Laundry
  • Limit $100 for Food/drinks/coffee per week (I know that this is a lot of money for some people, but I love food & cocktails so much that I easily go over every single week. Just being honest. I’m hoping that eating out of my pantry will help alleviate the costs)
  • Limit $40 bucks for entertainment- I already know I’ve committed to a couple of events
  • Anything health related- emergency room bill, vitamins, flu meds, co-pays
  • Transportation costs- I ride my bike to work half the time, but some days it is better just to take BART or Muni. I’m not counting taxis in this list.
  • Birchbox subscription (It’s kind of annoying to cancel and restart a service just to save 10 bucks, you know?)
  • Retirement contributions
  • Valentine’s present (well I guess I don’t want to be a grinch)
  • Any costs related to selling things on eBay/Amazon/etsy
  • Taxes

Oy. I feel pretty nervous about this already, but I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can save! I’ll try to share a status update at least once a week here on the blog. If you end up doing something similar, let me know. I’m curious how it works out for you.

*The term comes from the blog And Then We Saved, which is famous for the author’s admirable 15 month Spending Fast, which allowed her to pay off 24k in debt. Definitely check it out. It’s super inspiring.

Food, Health

30 Day Vegan + the I Quit Sugar Program: An Introduction

Cheese… dairy… I’m gonna miss you guys


A Jump Start…

So I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolution post that I wanted to give my 2013 a kick in the pants by going vegan for 30 days and cutting out refined sugars using the 8 wk long I Quit Sugar program. I’m not trying to make some gigantic lifestyle change. I’m just really curious about the effect that this diet tweak will have on my energy levels and skin. If I can avoid my usual afternoon crash and burn I’ll be really happy. Also, diabetes and liver disease runs in my family, so cutting back on sugar is important in that regard. After these 8 weeks are said and done, I hope to just overall cut back on my meat consumption.

My history: Like most things, you don’t just go vegan in a vacuum. Back in college I was vegetarian for quite a few years, and then tried the vegan thing. Veganism was hard to sustain as a lifestyle for me, so I switched back to vegetarianism. Then when I came home from school and moved in with my mom, she gave me hell so I started eating meat again. Who turns away a home-cooked meal from their mom? Not me.

When I moved out to San Francisco, there was so much exciting food to eat that I couldn’t think of being vegetarian- I had to eat it all! Of course I wanted to make the choice to eat sustainable meat/farm raised/organic/blahblahblah… except I never did. I just used the fact that meat could be eaten in a conscious way as an excuse to never truly look at my diet head-on and take steps that meshed with my morals. I was always saving it for someday. These days I eat everything, but moving forward I do want to cut back on my animal consumption for environmental, health and moral reasons.

Anyways, enough about me. On to the obvious questions:

What is Veganism?

So for those who aren’t acquainted with veganism, here’s a quickie primer:

  • No meat, poultry or fish
  • No dairy
  • No eggs
  • No animal byproducts: honey, whey, gelatin, fish oil, casein, rennet, lanolin, bee pollen, collagen, fish paste, etc.
  • No wearing animals: leather, wool, fur, down, horse hair, etc.
  • No animal products in your toiletries: sea sponges, collagen, squalene, tallow, beeswax, etc.

Of course, animal byproducts are everywhere. My favorite knitting needles are made out of casein, which is a protein found in milk. My face cream has shark oil in it. It’s tricky. So, for the purposes of my resolution, I’m trying to eat vegan for 30 days.

What is I Quit Sugar?


According to the American Heart Association, women should get no more than 24 grams of sugar a day (about 6 teaspoons). The average American woman eats about 18 teaspoons per day. In the infographic below, another cited stat is about 12 teaspoons a day. Either way, it’s a friggin lot.

I Quit Sugar is a nifty little e-book that helps you cut back on sugar over the course of 8 weeks. The author is Australian blogger/journalist Sarah Wilson, and she asks you to approach the whole thing as an “experiment” and not a life sentence. I can get behind that. From what I’ve read of it the book so far it’s light and entertaining, but could have a bit more substance and recipes.


Love this illuminating illustration from a popular New York Times article called Is Sugar Toxic?


I started my resolution last Saturday, so I’m on day 6. This first week I’m working on transitioning smoothly by eating vegan where I can, finishing up the rest of my non-vegan groceries (cheese, eggs, yogurt) and being more conscious of the sugar that I do eat.

Being vegan has been so far easy peasy as long as I’m in the house. On Sunday I made a giant tofu lasagna and one of my favorite dishes of 2012- spinach and chickpeas. I had mad leftovers so I was pretty set. Yesterday I royally screwed up by eating ahi tuna rolls at happy hour with my friend Brittani, but so be it. It’s about reducing my intake, not perfection.

Honestly cutting back on my sugar has been much harder than going vegan. It’s like learning a new language. Everything has sugar. Pasta sauce, bread, canned beans, frozen Indian food, crackers. It’s wild. Do yourself a favor and check the sugar content of what you eat next. You might be surprised.

I’ll continue to post updates on this vegan/sugar experiment, but to be honest, I’m a bit nervous about it all. I hope I can keep it up.