This type of post is new for me and a bit of a departure from my usual life recap posts. See, July posed a bit of a challenge for me. Because it was the end of the fiscal year I found out I would have to wait 6 weeks for my next pay check instead of the usual 4. On top of that I also had to pay my tuition for summer semester, so when all was said and done I was left with a pretty empty bank account to get me to the next paycheck and I had to get a bit creative.
I can’t lie, having a severely restricted budget for the month was super difficult. For example, there was one Saturday when the weather was gorgeous and I had nothing to do so I thought I’d take a road trip down to Homer. Unfortunately road trips require gas and gas costs money, so it didn’t happen. However, despite the frustrations that came along the way, I actually enjoyed coming up with ideas and figuring out how to make my few dollars stretch further. In the end I compiled a list of things I did, ideas that worked, and blessings I got, and I thought I’d share it here .
So without further ado, here’s how I saved in July 2016:
- Cooking with what I already had: My cupboards have never been bare. I always have a few packages of pasta, pancake mix, ramen, etc., I just usually skim by these items until I crave them, instead favoring what I want right now (pizza anyone?). So, in July I made the decision to only cook with what I already had with the exception of buying milk and eggs since most recipes call for one or the other. In the end I never went hungry, I found new recipes, and I appreciated what I had that much more.
- Planning a Potluck: Speaking of food, as an RA (Resident Assistant) I’m expected to plan and execute one event in the Residence Hall every month. Since fireworks are difficult in Alaska (thank you 22 hrs of daylight), one of my fellow RA’s and I planned a Fourth of July Potluck and Movie night for our event. I brought cupcakes (which I already had the mix for on hand, see #1 above) but got to enjoy other dishes like beer battered halibut and home made mac n’ cheese. Not a bad dinner at all. Then on top of the food we also had free entertainment by watching Independence Day on our big screen.
- Went on ResHall Grocery Runs instead of driving myself: In the Residence Hall I live in (picture college dorms but better), since we have kitchens but don’t have a dining hall we offer grocery runs every week to the local store. Anyone can go on them so long as there’s space left in our Sprinter van. More often than not we go to Fred Meyers, which is my store of choice, so instead of hopping in my car and driving myself (therefore using gas), I joined in on the grocery run. I was able to pick up the few items I actually needed and the transportation cost me nothing.
- Biked into town– I needed something from the grocery store and it was a non grocery run day so I borrowed a bike and rode to town instead. It wasn’t easy considering it’s been years since I’ve been on a bike, but it was free!
- Cancelled my CBS All Access subscription– A few months back I subscribed to CBS All Access so I could watch Survivor and The Amazing Race. Both shows are currently out of season and I found I wasn’t using the app at all, so I cancelled it therefore saving me money. I’ll pick it up again sometime in the future, but there’s no need to pay for something you don’t use.
- Earned Amazon giftcards for things I needed: I’ve been a product tester for awhile and one of the sites I go through, Crowdtap, also gives you the ability to earn Amazon.com giftcards for answering various questions or surveys on the site. Another site, Swagbucks, is similar in that you can earn giftcards for doing various different activities. When I watch TV etc. I usually like to multitask so I decided to put my multitasking to good use and try to earn some giftcards through these sites for a couple things I needed. In the end I had $20 to work with, and while I won’t do this consistently it’s a good option, especially for those who like to shop on Amazon a lot.
- Went on vacation for free: Ok, this one is a little more of a blessing than something I did for myself. Back in May my Dad called me and asked if I would like to come down to Washington to visit this summer and offered to use their air miles to get me a ticket. Of course I said yes! My parents ended up renting a house on a Lake in Eastern Washington for a week and it was absolutely perfect. See my post here to read more about it. My parents also covered everything which helped me out a lot in the end. Some other ways I was able to save on this trip were:
-Used my Club 49 membership to get free checked luggage on my flight
-Brought my own snacks for the flight and an empty water-bottle to fill up in the terminal to save money. I did end up buying a soda from McDonalds, but the McDonalds in the Anchorage airport is on of the few that still honors $1 drinks instead of jacking up the price like other airports. They also don’t have tax so I was able to pull a dollar bill out of my wallet and be done.
So there you have it, some of the ways I was able to save money during July. This is most definitely not an exhaustive list, but I thought I’d throw a few things out there. Right now I’ve continued the challenge into August. While I’m not quite as strict as I was in July I’m really doing my best to save more, especially with my internship coming up next month!