Cutting costs where I can. #moneyproblems

Last night I went to a concert in Worcester, Mass., which is normally about an hour and a half away from where I live. I shall not write a review of it as I didn’t get to see every band and besides, I found that I’m really not enjoying writing reviews as much as I thought I would. (I still have one or two album reviews lined up but those can wait for another time.) Rather, I’m starting this blog post with a gripe about how much money I spent on what supposedly was a free show.

Through a friend of mine who hosts a metal show on a local radio station I got a free ticket to the Napalm Death/Voivod/Exhumed/Iron Regan show at the Palladium. I forgot about the tour entirely and honestly I only really went because of the free ticket. That isn’t a reflection on those bands—I’ll get to my reasons in a moment. The price of gas has gone down over the past few months so I wasn’t too worried about that expense. I even allowed myself a beer by the time I got there.

I then saw that they had signs posted regarding the impending snow storm and as a result a potential street parking ban in the city. They advised that we all moved our cars to the nearby paid parking lots. Unfortunately those lots aren’t cheap. When I say that the lots are all at least fifteen bucks apiece I’m sure that somebody could point out where parking is exponentially more expensive in the world. But I really didn’t want to pay that much when street parking was free. However, I know that my car getting towed would come to a hell of a lot more money. I figured that I had made the trip there and the band I most wanted to see (Voivod) hadn’t played yet, so I moved my car to one of those lots. I returned to the show just in time for re-entry and tried to enjoy the rest of the evening. I got really bummed, then, when I left and cars were still parked throughout the streets with the snow only just coming down. Granted, I left early because I was tired and I knew that driving home would be longer that evening because of the storm.

So, why am I complaining so much over fifteen bucks? My usual excuse of “reaching my minimum word count” applies. But I also wish to point out how difficult it is to avoid spending money even when I think I have a “free” event to go to. If this happened just a few months ago when I worked overtime hours every week I wouldn’t have minded. However, not only did I lose overtime this time of year they cut my hours below my usual forty each week. Schedule cuts like this are common in retail this time of year. However, this is the first time that mine have ever gotten cut below forty. On top of that my cable and Internet  bill is going up. I already knew that I had to cut corners as a result of that, but the lost hours hurts. I know that everybody across the board at our store is getting the same thing. That doesn’t make it any less difficult for me.

So, with the increase of twenty-four dollars in that bill and a decrease in eighty dollars (roughly) for a month or two, I need to cut costs in a few different ways. First, I’m going to cut out the cable from my service and just stick with the Internet. The only reason I have TV in the first place is because when I signed up the package deal was the cheapest way to get the Internet at home. However, now that I no longer have the monthly discount I can cut out TV and lower my bill a little in the process. I wasn’t really watching it anyway. I also cut out a few different news subscriptions on my Kindle. I can always read Mother Jones at the library.

I think the biggest expense to cut out is drinking. If I actually go through a month’s checking statement and see how much I spent on beer I think I would kick myself in the ass. That’s why I’m not going to look but I know that I would cut out a significant amount of money each week by quitting drinking for a while. That’s not to mention the supposed health benefits of doing so. The can of beer I got at the concert last night was intended as my last hurrah when it comes to alcohol for a while. Then again, if I had known about the parking situation I probably would have skipped it. It wasn’t even a good beer, anyway.

Another big way to lower my bills is to cut out expenses in groceries each week. For example, one of the biggest portions of my grocery bill each week deals with breakfast. Trader Joe’s sells large boxes of their “Joe’s O’s” cereal for cheap. However, I never found it filling. Instead I used to get these more expensive cereals that didn’t even last as long so I would have to buy more each week. As a result I would say probably about eighteen bucks a week was spent on breakfast. I figured this week I would get the “Joe’s O’s” and some Cliff Bars, which would come out a little cheaper. Then I saw they had bananas for cheap. So I bought a bunch with the intent on chopping up a banana on my cereal each morning. I did so today. It felt weird but it did turn out to be filling… and cheaper.

That might actually be enough to cut costs around at least the hour cuts but I’m still watching what I spend beyond that. A box of tea bags is cheaper than a can of coffee (which may also help me control my caffeine intake as well). I’m not going out to eat or drink for a while (which I shouldn’t do whil I work on this album anyway). I’m also running out of shaving cream and good razor blades, so I may skip shaving for a while. If I’m not going out, why worry about how scruffy I get?

There’s other shows this month but I may skip them. A friend of mine is playing at a bar in Portsmouth next Friday, which I might go to if I can stay awake long enough but that’s about it. I really want to go see the Behemoth/Cannibal Corpse tour when it comes to Boston at the end of the month. I’m still undecided but if push comes to shove I may have to skip it this time. That is unless my tax returns come soon.

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