My First Brew – Ready to Taste

So I’m a little late in posting the results of my first brew. It sat for two weeks in the basement where it stayed at a fairly constant temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.


It had a rotten fruit yeasty smell – it was about as nasty an aroma as one can imagine juice sitting in the basement for two weeks might smell but with a lingering yeasty scent. In a word, it was off-putting. And not in some kind of delightful “I’ve made jug wine!” kind of way – it smelled closer to moldy tennis shoes than to wine.

But I persevered and stuck on the spigot and plastic tubing for the transfer.



Transferring the liquid is necessary b/c there’s A LOT of frothy yeast in that jug and I don’t want to drink any of it. Rather than go through the mess of a cheesecloth and funnel, I’m going to siphon the liquid into a sanitized brewing bucket, leaving the clumps of yeast behind in the jug. Then I’m going to clean out the jug and siphon the liquid from the bucket back into the clean jug. This process serves two important functions: 1. Filter out as much yeast as possible from the juice and 2. Use the jug as a pretty and practical container for keeping the juice refrigerated and easy to pour.

The other side of the tube goes into the brew bucket for the transfer.



Now the tube just needs a little bit of suction to promote the siphoning from the jug into the brew bucket. It was pretty tough to do this job with how gross the concoction smelled. I really didn’t want to end up with a mouthful of clumpy yeast juice.


Don’t I look nervous? It’s a scary job.

Alas, the siphoning began! And I managed to avoid tasting the stuff.

IMG_1174  IMG_1175

And then it was siphoned back into the jug.

IMG_1177 IMG_1180

The second transfer is definitely important. Look at how much stuff was still left at the bottom of the bucket.


And now the pretty jug of juice wine! I decided to let it sit in the fridge for a few days to help it carbonate just a little.


When I first tried it, I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted like wine in spite of its initial off-putting aroma. But it tasted very dry and not so flavorful.  Like church wine….kind of.

So I let it sit for another week and a half in the fridge to experiment with the taste differences of bottle conditioning it for a bit longer. Mostly I just didn’t want to drink it again for a while.

Tonight, I decided to give it another try. There is no off-putting odor anymore. It’s slightly carbonated, which is nice. (Takes another sip) Still dry, though. Very dry. Like a slightly sweet, very dry rosè wine with teensy hints of blackberry. I think next time, I’ll just do straight up apple juice although something citrusy might be just perfect – like grapefruit or mango.

All in all, though, it was a fun experiment in easy, frugal home-brewing fun.






Garden Variety

There’s no easier way to save on fresh produce than to invest in growing your own. A raised garden bed can last years and save a family hundreds of dollars each year in a yielded harvest. Obviously the ideal time to create a raised garden bed is the moment after the last freeze of the season.

However, The Beard and I were a bit late in creating this structure.

We finally got the lumber this week and managed to squeeze it all into our little car. We were literally up to our neck in landscape timber.

IMG_1167 Lumber: $44.52


But finally the structure was built.


And then filled.

IMG_1168  Soil: $53.84

And finally…….seeds were sowed!

IMG_1165Seeds: $23.10

Total cost: $121.46

Not exactly cheap, but it’s a great investment if it will actually yield all of the cucumbers, peas, spinach, chard, radishes, lettuce, jalapenos, and bell peppers that were planted into it today.

Bon appetit!

My First Brew – an $8 gallon jug of fermented fruit juice aka wine

About 10 days ago, I learned about Mr. Money Mustache and my life has been forever changed. It’s a great blog that perfectly articulates a wondrously frugal philosophy about money, happiness, and life in general.  After binge reading the entire blog, dozens of frugal ideas and inspirations surfaced from those articles. Ecstatic to try them all, The Beard and I jumped all over the Frugal yet Fancy Homebrewing article which details how to make an easy fruity alcoholic beverage.

The premise is simple:

1. Buy a gallon jug of preservative free juice and an envelope of champagne yeast.

2. Pour the champagne yeast into the juice jug.

3. Fit with an airlock stopper that has sterilized liquid in it.

4. Set aside for two weeks in an area of minimal temperature fluctuation.

5. ??? SCIENCE ???

6. Two weeks later……amazing fruit juice with an alcohol kick.

We gathered the necessary supplies. Luckily, because The Beard is a skilled home beer brewer, we already had a gallon jug with a cap, cleaning/sterilizing supplies, and an airlock stopper.


The juice combo is from Trader Joe’s: Blackberry juice cocktail and apple juice.

It’s important to sterilize all the equipment, which takes longer to do than anything else.


Using either a kitchen funnel or a very confident hand, pour the juices into the jug.




Next comes the packet of champagne yeast. Then put that stopper on! We used white rum as the sterile liquid in the airlock. No need to stir the yeast in, science will pull it down into the brew over time.

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See those little granules sitting at the top – that’s the yeast.

And now, an hour later:


Frothy goodness! Now we’ll just set it in the cool basement for 2 weeks. Since we used a bit more yeast than perhaps necessary (ahem, in our overzealousness we dumped the whole packet rather than measuring out 1/2 teaspoon) we’ll probably have to transfer the mixture into another container once it’s ready to drink. Don’t want a big yeast cake at the bottom of our beverage jug now do we?

I’m hoping we didn’t add too much yeast….we’ll see in two weeks. Or sooner if the jug froths up too much over the next few days.

Our total cost was only $7 for the juices and $1 for the yeast. I’ll post an update as to how it turns out.


The Dog Days of a Fiscal Fast

A few days ago I declared a Fiscal Fast for 7 days.

I pretty much said it just like this:


It’s not much of a money challenge so I decided not to post it as such. It’s just that every once in a while – not often – a perfect storm  between automatic withdrawal for bills and some kind of unexpected expense (or a series of!) arise to totally wipe out our checking account a week before payday.

It’s not that big a deal. All it means is that there is absolutely nothing allowed to come out of checking. Envelope monies are okay to use, when appropriate. But that’s it.

When people who don’t realize they’re poor find themselves in our temporary situation, they may transfer money from savings or whip out the credit card. But not us, not anymore. We fiscally fast our way through the rough patch.

Unfortunately I realized yesterday that Zelda the dog is almost out of dog food… almost completely out.


Now, we love our crazy pup. Although I’ll buy the off brand hot pockets for me and The Beard, Zelda gets only the best. She eats the gourmet, grain free, sensitive stomach, organic Blue Buffalo dog food. It’s only fair, really, since that’s all she gets to eat.

So tonight…this poor misunderstood girl…..had to eat some of the cat food.  Luckily, she was thrilled at the change. And although I know cat food is not good for dogs, I think she’ll live for a few days on the stuff.

She’s not complaining.


Aw, the dog days of the fiscal fast. It’s actually quite liberating to know that you can’t spend out of the checking account. In fact, earlier today one of my favorite blogs Little House in the Suburbs posted a greatly discounted knitting pattern book that is right up my alley (20s 30s knit slouchy romance styles – oh my!) and I just had to shrug and pass at the deal. It felt pretty good. Maybe I’ll start declaring fiscal fasts more often.


It Pays to be Peeved…..Sometimes: Part 1

Waiting tables is an experience I believe that everyone should have. If you’ve never waited tables before, I highly recommend you apply for a part time serving gig at your local diner. You will learn more about the human experience than any Anthropology or Sociology professors. For better or for worse. Guaranteed.

I waited tables throughout college and I know within minutes of meeting someone and carrying on a conversation with them whether they’ve ever waited tables before.  At parties and get togethers, I find the former servers (it’s a sixth sense at this point) and I prefer to hang out with them. I could write a whole post on the serving experience. From the humility to the triumph; the extreme multi-tasking & quick facade problem solving; witnessing others behavior from the perspective of “the waiter”; hearing conversations so memorable and indicative of our culture all while absentmindedly topping off a glass of water.  I hated waiting tables, but I’m so glad that I did.

For more information on the humbling and crazed experience of being a server.

Anyway, onto my point. No matter which restaurant I was working in or what shift, there’s always the guy trying to get a discount. When I waited tables at a local family dinner restaurant, there was a guy named Larry who we all loathed. I don’t even know if his real name was Larry, but that’s what we called him.  If you wanted to get a rise out of your co-worker on a shift just tell them, “Larry just sat down in your section.” Nothing evoked more of an “Oh fuck” response than that.

And rightfully so!

About 3-5 times per month, Larry and his family of five would come in and order everything on the menu. The kids would have “soda drinking contests” and demand refills every few minutes. All of the sugar made them even messier eaters and there was always a heavy dusting of mac n’ cheese, cracker crumbs, and sauces on the table and floor.  While these are annoying expectations of the trade, Larry’s family would take it a step further.

You see, their table would be full of food…but nothing was fully eaten. While every plate had been picked at or half way devoured, there was always still at least half of the entree on it.  As his server, you would look at his table and ask, “How is everything?” Larry’s wife and kids would go silent and Larry would just smile. You’d offer to take plates away to help clear the table. “Are you through with this plate?” You’d ask one of his children. Larry would always answer for them. “No, leave it there.”

And you knew it was coming.

Larry would be incredibly polite to you throughout the meal. Jovial, even.  Of course, the nice guy disappeared and Jekyll came out the second you brought him his check.  Within moments of Larry opening the black vinyl check holder, he was transformed into a raging Thespian asshole.

“This is unbelievable! $3.99 for a mushy cold baked potato?! $11.89 for a steak not cooked properly?! You’ve got be kidding me! I want my bill comped!”

As he began listing off all the entrees he wanted comped from his bill, you’d try your best to sound politely shocked, “Sir, we had no idea you were unhappy with your meal since everything’s been eaten.” Larry loved when you’d say this, he’d smile and stand up and whisk his arm over the table of half eaten entrees and side dishes. “No, we did NOT eat everything! Look at how little my children ate! And they were hungry when we got here! I demand to see the manager!”

Your work was now done. You’d find the manager working and tell them “Larry would like a word with you” and watch them close their eyes in agony.  Because just as the manager approached Larry’s table, his theatrics went into overdrive. His antics could be heard throughout the entire dining room. Tables seated near him could no longer carry on a conversation over the boisterous bamboozling of Larry’s bravado performance. His wife would wimply tug on his arm and shush him before crossing her arms and tightening her lips – her acting skills were not quite as developed. Two of his children looked embarrassed, but the youngest one always got a kick out of dad’s behavior and would climb his chair in excitement with a missing teeth grin.

9 times out of 10, Larry’s tantrum was rewarded though never fully to Larry’s liking. He’d gruff and sit down while the manager considered discounting certain items. At some point, the manager would call out Larry’s behavior and tell him that she knew exactly what he was up to and that he’s done it before and that he’s not welcome to come back in if he continues to cause such a disturbance, etc. Larry would wave her away with his hand and grumble that they haven’t been here in ages, she must have him confused with another, etc.

He’d pay his comped bill, leave a meager tip, and his family would shuffle out leaving a mess on the table and floor.

The thing of it is: I’m not really sure why he did it. He wasn’t saving any money since he was still going out to eat frequently and the amount of main dishes and side dishes they bought was always excessive. He’d end up with an $89 bill for a meal that, had he ordered sensibly, could have only cost him $45. And then he’d embarrass himself and his family and ruin other diners’ experiences and be rude and totally out of breath just to get his ticket down to maybe $70-$75.  He still came out the loser in person and on paper.

There are a lot of Larrys in the world. I see them at garage sales, restaurants, furniture stores. The philosophy is that if I the consumer can be enough of a nuisance to another person, I can shave a few dollars off my bill. I will never understand the trade off. Being a jerk takes too much out of me for it to be worth a few dollars saved. A woman I used to work with spent 40 minutes on the phone with her cable/internet provider trying to lower her monthly bill. She was fiercely and wickedly inappropriate and rude to the provider representative, but got off the phone smiling. “They lowered my bill from $152/mo to $137/mo!”

Right, but you’re still a jerk. I don’t understand the victory. Just get rid of your cable and now you only have pay $30/mo and you’re not ruining someone’s day! That’s a victory!

Realizing the length of this post now – it’s too long. I should have known that bringing up Larry would take me on a long rant…

My point is that there is a right way to complain and a wrong way to complain and this post illustrates the wrong way. Will it get results? Yes. Will you feel good about yourself after? Only if you’re a dick anyway.




Puttin’ on the Ritz….for less

Because I’m a frugal person who enjoys luxury in moderation, it’s been a while sine The Beard and I dined out gourmet style. Sure, we’ve dropped $20 – $40 on a brunch or sensible dinner out every now and then but we haven’t eaten a four course meal cooked by a gourmet chef since Valentines Day 2011 when we found a sweet deal at a swanky restaurant.

But last week, a family friend said they had a door prize about to expire: a free four course meal for two at one of the ritziest historical restaurants in Kansas City, MO. She asked if we wanted it and warned us that it had to be used within two days. We jumped at the opportunity. Now let me share the lovely meal and the delightful check with you:

I was too overcome with hunger to snap a photo of the first course: a plate of escargot. Here’s the second course: a Savannah style crab cake with an artichoke purée gastrique and fried green tomatoes with a sweet red tomato chutney. Yes, fried green tomatoes, when done right, deserve a place on the gourmet menu.


And yes, I took full advantage of the free warm pretzel rolls with fresh whipped butter.

Now for the entrées:


I had the Chilean sea bass with sweet potato gnocchi in a cream saffron sauce.


The Beard had a medium rare veal with glazed asparagus, buttered blue crab, and fingerling potatoes with a bearnaise sauce.


That was all that was left of the chai tea crème brûlée when I recovered from a state of absolute bliss and realized I had not yet taken a photo.

The check arrives!


Out of a $142.35 bill, we were only responsible for $39.35 (wine and tax) plus tip. So we paid only $69.35 for a meal over twice that cost. It was lovely to enjoy a delicious meal out without any concern over the prices on the menu.

Food tastes better when it’s a great deal and paid for in cash. I’m glad we held off treating ourselves until the opportunity knocked.

It’s Not What You Make; It’s What You Spend: or how I have more than my friend who makes twice my salary

I make $35k/yr. My friend CJ makes $70k/yr. Both CJ and I have pretty modest savings and retirement accounts. And it’s not uncommon for me to complain that I only have $200 in my checking only to hear CJ echo the same complaint. How can this be? He makes twice as much as I do! When I finally dissected CJ’s spending habits (he was okay with it), I realized something crazy: I have more money than the guy who makes twice my salary. My boss makes what CJ makes and has somewhat similiar spending habits. Do I have more money than my boss?! This phenomenon has intrigued me ever since reading an article some time ago entitled, “Living luxe at $12k/yr; Scraping by at $65k/yr” or something like that. It told the story of a frugal grad student making only $12k and no-budget hot shot struggling on $65k/yr. My dad always says “It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend.” And when I break down the data I’ve collected in comparing both mine and CJ’s spending habits, he’s absolutely correct. The breakdown is fascinating to me, but if you’re crunched for time or just want to see the numbers, you can scroll down to the table. I won’t tell.

The breakdown:

1. My friend CJ insisted on buying a chic condo in one of the more expensive areas of the city. He pays $1500 a month for a snug one bedroom space. Yes, it has a walk-in closet, granite countertops, a concierge and a rooftop pool. Afterall, this is Kansas City where cost of living is quite affordable. But he has to walk almost two blocks from his car parking spot (which he pays $60/month for) whenever he gets groceries or a big purchase. Consequently, he doesn’t like buying a lot of groceries or bulky stuff that he’ll have to haul. So he ends up missing out on wholesale pricing and often buys travel sized products to save space in his grocery bag. This significantly inhibits his ability to take advantage of bargain prices or get the best bang for his buck. You ever carry a six pack of beer, a 12 pack of toilet paper, a 2 pack of paper towels, and 2 bags full of groceries? It’s not fun. Now imagine walking 2 blocks in the rain and realizing half way that you forgot your cell phone in the car and you make it to your building only to see that the elevator’s being worked on and you live on the 9th floor…you get the idea. On the other hand, I have a house in the ‘burbs and a lovely circle driveway. Psst! My place is actually CHEAPER than his. You really pay for that chic downtown location and amenities.

2. Since it’s annoying to haul groceries downtown and he lives near the best restaurants in the city, CJ dines out a lot. He uses excuses like “it’s not economical to cook for one” or “I deserve a night out so long as it’s not every night.” CJ’s favorite places to eat are not crazy expensive but they’re not greasy spoon cheap either. I once asked him how many times he goes out for dinner or orders in. “Only about 4 or 5 nights a week…..but the average cost is only maybe $16 tops.” I think he was low balling it but we’ll use his figure anyway. That’s $81 a week just for dinner out.

3. While we’re on the subject of dinner out, it’s important to note that CJ is big on the dating scene. He’s out every week getting drinks with friends or Sunday brunch. He told me that if it’s a normal night out, it’s not uncommon to drop $50 on drinks and maybe an appetizer. If the night is crazy fun, the cost climbs to around $85-$100. And that’s him being “frugal about it.” Since he’s usually out 3 nights a week at least, we’ll say the weekly total for drinks out on the dating scene run him about $235.

4. Then there’s CJ’s work. He’s a digital marketing associate at a pretty swanky firm here in Kansas City. I’ve noted that it’s a big paycheck – loads more than I make. Twice as much to be exact. Since the firm is full of a lot of other late 20s/early 30s crowd, they go out to eat or order into the office… “I’ve never seen anyone bring their lunch from home,” CJ admitted. How much is lunch out everyday? CJ estimates it only runs about $40 per week. “It’s not like I’m eating ribeye steak everyday!” Right…but we’ll see how it all adds up.

5. Okay. Now when I say “young urban creative type making great money”, there’s a certain guy that pops into your mind. He’s sleek, put together, looks approachable and interesting. Now, let me add that it’s about 8:30am and the city is bustling with urban pulse and this guy is walking down the street with his messenger bag, cardigan, and —- in hand. C’mon you know this! What’s missing?Starbucks. Also called “5 bucks” by finance geeks like me. Yes, CJ gets it every weekday morning and sometimes on Saturday too. That’s another $30 per week.

6. Gym membership: $65/month. Plus personal trainer twice a month at $80/session. Is he fit? Yes. If you looked at both of us and had to pick who has the gym membership, though, you wouldn’t automatically say CJ. I work out just fine without the membership.

7. Hair cut and hot oil massage at a swanky spa: $160/month. CJ maintains, “It’s my only luxury!”

8. Nice car with a nice car payment of $320/month.

9. Student loans. CJ went to school out of state, did study abroad, and lived off student loans for 4 years. He managed to get a scholarship to grad school but still had to take out loans to cover a majority of his living expenses. I don’t know exactly how much his total loan amount is but I know that he tries to pay a little more than the minimum to keep a curb on interest and his monthly payment runs him “between $540-$700 a month”. One time he joked that he’ll probably be nearing retirement by the time they’re totally paid off. That makes me sad, considering that if he tightened up his lifestyle a little, he could probably double or even triple his monthly payment.

10. Jet setting. As a young person, there’s a lot of messages out there to travel at my age. I hear things like, “It’s the only thing worth going into debt for” or “You HAVE TO travel in your 20s” and “You’ll never get to have that experience again!” And I do travel. I take travel very seriously. I take it so seriously that I make sure I can afford to do it BEFORE I do it. I haven’t always had this foresight and it’s bitten me in the ass a few times. But now, I refuse to go anywhere unless I have all the funds ready. It makes traveling and vacationing way more fun when you know you don’t have a bunch of debt to come to home to. Trust me on that one. And CJ’s not racking up everything on his credit card. But he also has no problem charging stuff to pay off later. And after paying for a trip to Comic Con San Francisco, a weeklong friends trip to Belize, a visit to Brazil to see friends, a weekend Las Vegas adventure and two trips home to see family, I imagine that CJ has some credit card debt. Even if he doesn’t, think of all the funds that could have gone to debt repayment or retirement or investing. Even if he just took out two trips last year, he could save around $5,000 easy. Dissecting each trip he took last year, CJ spent approx. $2500 for Comic Con, $4000 for Belize, $3500 for Brazil, $1600 for Vegas, and $2000 to go home twice. That’s $13,600 that CJ spent last year “traveling on a budget.” Does he regret it? Of course not. Has he added up how much he could have saved or how far ahead he’d be in paying his loans if he just postponed one trip? Of course not.

11. Clothing and recreational activities. CJ spends more on clothing and fun stuff than I do. CJ’s jeans cost about $120, his dog chews on $30 pet toys and he buys most of the latest gadgets that come out. If he’s invited to a movie or bowling or a concert, he’s in. There’s never a “no, maybe next time” or “can’t this week, I’m on a budget.” It’s always instant gratification and full availability. “Why not? I make good money and I’m sensible about stuff. I probably spend about $400- $500 a month on stuff like clothes, concert tickets, or cool stuff I want. That’s not a ludicrous amount.”

12. Furnitures and fixes. When The Beard and I wanted a new couch, we first sold our old one on Craigslist for $100. Then we lived in a bare, couch-less living room for about three months while we shopped and budgeted for our newest piece of expensive furniture. We threw down $780 for an awesome Broyhill sofa that had reviews like, “Sturdy, comfortable, will last a lifetime.” Because we spent so much on our new couch, we care for it amazingly well and didn’t have a problem going cheap for our coffee table which cost us a whopping $25 at the thrift store. It looks good and we love it. CJ got his couch from West Elm for $1300 and his coffee table from Restoration Hardware for $700. I use these as examples but it’s pretty much this way with everything he owns. We have a 10 year old bed we bought off Craigslist, while CJ makes payments on a tempurpedic mattress. Of course I recognize the merit in “paying more for quality” but I don’t subscribe to the all or nothing mentality of quality at a price vs cheap on the thrift. My coffee table and CJ’s coffee table are both made of solid wood and don’t wobble. He paid $675 more than I did for the same quality and function. I’m too frugal to excuse that kind of logic. As for fixes, CJ knows how to screw in a lightbulb and tighten a sink’s washers but he calls in the experts for anything else. The Beard and I will at least research how necessary it is to call a pro before we dial them. Sometimes, there are youtube tutorials to show you how to spend an afternoon tackling your obstacle for a few dollars for parts and other times you have to fork over the money to call a professional or risk spending more on repairing your own mistakes. CJ can’t be bothered with the former and calls a pro for most tasks.

And now in chart form!

Monthly Expense CJ Kate What CJ Has/Does: What Kate Has/Does:
Housing & Parking $1,560.00 $1,000.00 A one bedroom loft in a chic downtown neighborhood + a parking spot two blocks away A three bedroom house on a quarter acre of land in the city’s suburban south side
Dinner & Drinks Out $1,369.00 $455.00 Dinner out at foodie restaurants downtown 4-5 nights/week, cocktails out on the dating scene 3-4 nights/week Dinner and drinks out 1-2 nights/week; somewhere especially nice once/month
Lunch Out $174.00 $15.00 Every day of the work week. It’s part of his work culture. Brings own lunch to work every day. Treats herself to lunch out with a friend once a month.
Coffee Out $130.00 $25.00 Starbucks an average of 6 days a week Local coffee shop on Saturdays
Gym & Personal Training $225.00 $0.00 Gym membership and sessions with personal trainer Walks dog daily and lifts kettlebell weights at home. Yoga at home.
Car Payment $320.00 $0.00 Drives a lovely 2012 Prius. Drives a lovely 2000 Volvo that was bought with $3500 cash 5 years ago.
Student Loans $620.00 $0.00 Attended out of state school for undergrad; studied abroad; lived on loans throughout grad school Attended in state school; no study abroad; worked two jobs throughout college; no grad school
Travel/Vacations $1,133.00 $100.00 In one year, went to Comic Con San Francisco, one week in Belize, weekend in Las Vegas, two weeks in Brazil to see friends, and two trips home for the holidays. In one year, had a one week “stay-cation”, a one week trip to Florida beach condo with expenses divided between 8 people, family getaway weekend at lakehouse in Oklahoma.
Clothing & Recreational $450.00 $120.00 Pays retail for clothing, new gadgets, goes to concerts, sports games, and outings often. Only buys clothing on sale or thrifted, new gadget only once per year, and budgets out concerts and events.
Spa & Haircuts $160.00 $8.00 Monthly hair cut and hot oil massage Expensive hair cut once a year; free trims or self trims; low maintenance style. Only massages if it’s a gift otherwise I request free back rubs from my husband regularly.
Furniture $700.00 $25.00 West Elm; TempurPedic; Restoration Hardware A few expensive items we save up to pay cash for; scour thrift stores, yard sales, and Craigslist for deals
Repairs $120.00 $45.00 Contracts out for renovations; simple and complex repairs. DIY for simple repairs and renovations/demolitions; contacts out for only complex repairs.
Groceries $440.00 $265.00 Shops exclusively at Whole Foods; does not use coupons or shop sale ads. Buys groceries for less than half of all meals. Shops at Aldi, Trader Joe’s , Price Chopper, and Costco. Shops sale ads and uses coupons when necessary. Buys groceries for majority of meals.
Fuel $90.00 $200.00 Drives fuel efficient Prius; walks to work and most restaurants/bars. Drives most places and commutes across town to work.
Monthly Totals $7,491.00 $2,354.00
Yearly Spending $89,892.00 $28,248.00

That’s right. It’s actually a lot worse than I expected. CJ seems to spend almost $20k more than he makes every year. And if you ask him if he’s being too lavish, he’s quick to respond with “What are you talking about? I live comfortably but carefully.”

Again, I’m not an expert in household economics, but I am coming out ahead when you look at the break down. I actually prefer being frugal because it doesn’t feel like deprivation to me. It just makes the good times that much better.

Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaires

I am poor. I work around poor people. I live in a neighborhood filled with poor people. There are poor people at the grocery store shopping around me and when I commute to work, it’s poor people driving in the cars beside me.

But they don’t know they’re poor.

They may know that their checking account is low right now or say “times are tough right now because of the economy, job market, inflation, etc.”

But it’s just “right now.” Not always. It’s temporary…

They say, “When I win the lottery….” or “Well, when I make my millions….” and “I’ll be able to pay this off when I get that book deal, earn that degree, open that business, score that better job, get famous, etc.”

It’s a special kind of insanity that plagues many people when they find themselves consistently using the twisted logic of “let me buy this NOW because I’ve decided things will be different LATER.”

They seem to avoid acknowledging their actual present lot in life. They surround themselves with things to prove to themselves that they’re not poor. “I can’t be poor if I drive this nice car and shop at the expensive boutiques and eat gourmet. I can’t possibly be poor since I have this big house, these rich friends, and I take vacations abroad.”

Never mind the credit card debt or the student loans or the mortgage loan or the car payments. You can lay it all out for them and show them the numbers and they’ll still ignore it. They live their lives in complete denial. They fuel their denial by making excuses and turning their nose up at “poor people stuff” like budgets, frugality, and doing without.

In their eyes, they are not poor. They are temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

Sound depressing? It’s because it is. Denial and ignorance are incredibly depressing. Why do so many choose to live in a false reality they construct from excuses and denial?

Because they don’t know HOW to be poor.

And let’s be honest. It’s terrifying to admit or realize that you are something that you don’t know how to be! It’s far more comforting to revert back to the habits that reinforce not the reality but the possibilities. Why live in reality when you can easily live in a dream?

The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. Most people don’t make it past this step. They may acknowledge the problem when they see their balances owed on their statements. But when they’re in the store or out with friends or dreaming of a new car or a new travel destination, they stop acknowledging the problem.

Being poor is not depressing. Denial of being poor is depressing. Being impoverished is scary. But being poor is quite manageable……if you know how to be poor.

I am not a temporarily embarrassed millionaire and I work hard to avoid the mindset. I am poor. And I live my life with the intent of being poor in the best way. This is not a blog on how to get rich, it’s a blog on how to be poor.

I am not an expert. I’m just trying to figure this out and document the journey. Feeling motivated? Me, too.