Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tutorial: How to Have a Good Saturday Living in Grad School Poverty

Nowadays we hear daily reports of the creepiness of the economy: stock prices go down, gas prices go up, daily necessities grow more expensive, the dollar isn't doing so hot, etc.etc.etc. But, dear reader, you can live the good life on pittance, and I'm here to show you how.

A Good Saturday Afternoon

1. Begin by choosing to pack your own lunch to eat at home or on the way (we would have done this in the park, but it was raining. We ended up eating in the car before we started driving).

Cost: $0 (already-bought groceries don't count, right? especially when they were all bought on sale at the cheap local market) (Thanks for teaching me the macro function on my camera, Dad)

2. Hit the stores for which you have recently found long-lost gift cards from two birthdays ago. Browse with an air of superiority because you know good "LITrature" and have impeccable taste -- demonstrate this fact by buying nothing.

Cost: $0

3. Head to CVS -- your extra-care bucks should have printed recently (they do so quarterly). Because Josh refuses to support the Big Corporation (except by working for them), we only got $1 in extra care bucks last week, but we knew how to use it:

Cost: $.28

4. Starbucks has (had?) this deal going where if you register gift cards online (sacrificing precious privacy, I know, but it's not like anyone really has privacy anymore anyway), they'll send you a postcard for a free drink. Anything you want--really.

So we headed to Starbucks (a quiet one -- we had many options) and waltzed up to the counter. I handed the barista my postcard: "Need some help deciding?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. "What do people order here when they have money?"

"You like caffeine? Sweet? Something hot?"

Nod. Nod. Nod.

"You look like a caramel macchiato kind of person to me." He turned to Josh. "And you look like a mocha man."

And the next thing we knew: two steaming venti beverages (the barista decided they should be venti). Venti. I knew this cup size existed theoretically, but it had never occurred to me that they could really enter into my own life.

So now you gaze into the somewhat dopey eyes of your very attractive companion (please comment if you think he needs to trim the goatee).

Then you taste each of the mythically-proportioned beverages (Josh's was actually a white mocha with a shot of hazelnut).

And then make a funny face swishing the two together in your mouth to make white-mocha-caramel-hazelnut fairy-tale flavor.

(We couldn't finish these; the leftovers are in our fridge awaiting reheating tomorrow morning. Is that gross?)

Cost: $0

5. Finally, head to the grocery store to exorcise the spending itch by buying groceries you've already budgeted for anyway. Shop for deals; use the coupons you've lovingly clipped and organized; don't turn up your nose at store-brand jam.

Cost: grocery $$.

6. Head home with a feeling of great satisfaction and a caffeine buzz. Make a huge salad for dinner. Let evening slip into nighttime.

Total cost: $0.28

*Full disclosure: we also gave $1 to a Streetwise seller because we thought we should, bought a gift we shouldn't spoil by talking about, paid approximately $2.20 in parking meters, and used probably $2 of gas. Let's not count those.

**The day would have been even awesomer if we'd been able to go to a free concert in the park, but Josh has to practice some music with some people for church tomorrow. Hence my quality time with my laptop. When he gets home we might watch a movie and pop $.25-worth of popcorn.

The end.


  1. As a soon to be full-time grad student and being currently unemployed, I appreciate the anecdote! We'll take your lesson to heart... I hope all is well!

  2. Not gross. Cute top. Does Trader Joe's brand Jam count as a store brand? :)