What I wanted to do tonight: Order out some Chinese dumplings for dinner and buy a new glossy magazine to flip through. Total theoretical cost: $10

What I did do: Ate leftovers and downloaded a free TV show on iTunes. (This feed let’s you know what free downloads are available from iTunes. Very handy.) Total actual cost: $3

Once a month, in an effort to save funds, I like to not go to the grocery store for a week and really clean out the fridge and pantry. The results are usually bizarre and can result in small portions of random dishes. I find though that I waste less food this way as I find, for example, some corn that has migrated its way to the back of the fridge or a can of beans I forgot I had.

Yes, it’s easy and fun to go out to eat. But it’s expensive. My average meal at home costs about $3 while even my inexpensive dumplings would be double that.

So I think it’s good to do some small thing that’s a little annoying or hard. It’s not about self deprivation but about thinking ahead. Think of it as saving money for something more important like Christmas gifts, your retirement, or that trip to Budapest.

Skip the gourmet coffee and just get a small regular one, decide to walk to work and not use gas, print local grocery store coupons… whatever saves you a little money and doesn’t in the end make a big difference in the grand scheme of things.

Now how did that feel? Good. So pat yourself on the back and enjoy some of that slightly bizarre yet nourishing stirfry made from items in your fridge. Pretty soon, you’ll be on that plane to Budapest…

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