a round-up of thrift, april 2024.

I was really discouraged in April. I am still discouraged in May. And today I looked at June, and I’m even more discouraged now. Is there really any need for me to be writing these posts, where it seems like anything I do simply does not work?

But I guess, forced by circumstance or actual healthy reasoning, some of my choices are changing. Even today I came to the office, and my first impulse was to go get a take-out coffee. Doesn’t matter that I have 7 euro left to my name (yes, 10 days into the month, one week after salary).

But I didn’t do it. I didn’t get that coffee.

Though obviously one coffee is not going to save me from financial ruin.

So what else did I do?

If you’re new to these posts, please read the first couple paragraphs of the month of February. If you’re of the lazy kind, then at least know this: I know how to save money. I don’t need advice. If I implemented every single money saving tip I know, I’d be one rich motherfucker by now. Unfortunately I am not exactly right in the head, so it is what it is. We’re working on it.

1. I’ve got a whole kitchen set up in the office, I’m telling you. Cooking at home continues to be difficult, and my pancreas doesn’t like to subsist on ramen and crackers (who’d have thought, huh). So I bought a bunch of instant porridges and flakes, a big tub of yoghurt, some pre-washed veg, and garlic salt, and this is my lunches most days. Breakfast is a supermarket muffin that is sometimes accompanied by a cheese sandwich. Supper is eggs or beans on toast. This has allowed me to almost completely avoid the deli counter, obliterate take-out, and minimise bakery visits.

2. I brought water from home. Sometimes people responsible for office water delivery forget to order it on time, and we run out before fresh bottles arrive. I used to buy a bottle in these cases, but this time around I brought a big-ass bottle from home. And I filled it with boiled water.

3. Speaking of water, my father bought a new electric kettle. I don’t really want to get into the whole story – and yes, there is one. But my stove-top kettle is out of business once more. I can’t deny the convenience of an electric one.

4. Last month I was thinking that I would run out of detergent pods, but I still have three left. I’m still not buying detergent, because after the pods are gone, I’ve got two samples, and after that is gone, I’ve got laundry sheets, and after laundry sheets are gone, I’ve got washing soda, and after washing soda I’ve got soap nuts. So I won’t be too surprised if next time I need to buy laundry soap comes around in 2025.

5. I rounded up all my instant noodles on one shelf, and although I don’t have an exact number, it looks like there’s at least 20 packs. As we’ve established above, I can’t have them daily, so ramen became a delicacy that I enjoy on Saturdays. It sounds ridiculous I’d wager, but I LOVE cup noodles/ instant ramen/ ramyun/ etc. It’s a thing I look forward to, and it gives me a decent dopamine boost, thus distracting me from desire to spend money. I’m thinking of pushing ramen to Sundays and bringing back cereal Saturdays. I used to eat cereal and watch Elementary on Saturdays, and it was a nice ritual.

Anyway, since there are at least 20 packs, I’m set for a couple of months without additional expense.

6. I spent 0 on fixing my car situation (and I hope I did not just jinx it). I charged the battery from my father’s car, put air in my tyres using my compressor, and was good to go. The only thing I paid for was car wash, but I went to an automatic one and spent 5 euro, instead of going the usual route of human labour and detailing and paying at least two times more.

7. I, er- OK, this sounds asinine, but I tipped less. Technically the only thing I had to tip for in April was over-the-counter coffee and a baked good – and the baked good I pick and pack myself. I also had to pay for grocery delivery once I think, because I was sick and at home – or was that in March… I don’t remember, but that I tipped well as I usually do, because these bags were heavy as fuck, and I live up some flights of stairs in a building without a lift. Coffee in a bakery, though, is a different matter. All I did was leave 1 or 2 instead of 5 or 10 as I would otherwise, because hey. Coffee costs 35. Baked things like I said I pick and pack myself. So all I did was tip proportionally instead of greatly over-tipping like I usually do.

I should extrapolate, I think, and mention that the ladies pouring my coffee are salaried workers. They have a fixed salary, and also a percentage of the entire amount they sell on that day. So they are not reliant on tips alone for their income.

But the narcissist in me will gladly return to overtipping the moment she can. She just can’t right now.

8. I used the things I had at home for my journalling. I wanted a tag system for my book journal so I could easier find certain things, and I thought of buying stickers, because I’ve seen people do the sticker system, and it looks very nice. But I went with what I have and used markers instead. I also used colour pencils for my tracker instead of buying colourful pens like I originally wanted.

9. My food waste, although present, was much lower this month. The amount I will be satisfied with is zero, though.

10. I used weaker medication for very minor headaches. As someone who lives with migraines, my first impulse is to always take a stronger pill so that a small headache has no chance of turning into a full blown migraine episode. But thankfully – well… – after years of coexisting with headaches I am quite proficient in differentiating headache types and knowing which one will turn into a migraine if not treated with stronger medication, and which one will just annoy me a bit longer but won’t render me useless for a day or two. It is not a practice I recommend. Take your meds, and don’t skimp on them. But I do what I have to do for now, and it did save me an estimated 10 to 20 euro.

11. Speaking of meds, I stopped taking supplements for insomnia – because I ran out of them and I had no money to replenish, and I hope I did not just jinx myself, but so far, so good. I still take all my main meds, though, but as it often is, main meds are cheaper than fancy supplements. When summer is in full swing I might have to go back to them, but for now I’m saving another 20-30 euro.

12. I’m drinking tea I swore I’d never drink again. And- I like it. They must have changed the leaves, because I promise it used to taste like paper. Now it tastes like a honey infusion. Anyway, so I had an unopened box at home for reasons I cannot begin to tell you, because I honestly have no idea. But I ran out of Lipton – which I, too, swore I would never drink again… – and I couldn’t find any other black tea but this box. So I was like, fuck it, I want tea, let’s try it. And I did. And I liked it. So next time I run out of tea, I’ll buy a 100 pack of this stuff.

Maybe it tastes different because the box says ‘high grown’ instead of ‘ceylon’. I am not sure how much truth is there in their marketing tricks, but it does taste different.

13. I stopped myself from ordering take-out dessert by making chocolate mug cake at home. There was nothing sweet at home, and I was very, very close to getting a cake delivered, but I fixed myself a microwave mug cake, and it was enough.

14. I bought the cheapest ice cream. Still tasty.

15. I ran out of but didn’t immediately buy a new jar of instant coffee. I’m not a big instant coffee drinker these days, but I do keep low-caffeine instant on hand for dalgonas and stuff (because those two heaping tablespoons of non-decaf will send me running for the hills). Well, I ran out, and I haven’t bought a new one. No more dalgonas for me. Whenever I want a late-night coffee, I just make one in a moka pot using my decaf Lavazza.

16. I don’t drink my morning coffee at home. Rather, I wait until I get to work and have it at the office for free. (Well, I still buy my own milk, as I am not a fan of powdered creamer.) Pretty sure this also helps keep my cortisol a little lower, as it takes me about an hour to make it to work after waking up, which means I don’t drink coffee first thing, as I’ve been doing since… age 10, I think.

17. And I suppose the biggest thing I did in April that will affect all the upcoming months is I negotiated a raise. Even with said raise I’m discouraged for June already – but how much more discouraged would I be without it? So of course I’m happy I will be getting more money each month. I just really need to continue reducing expenses as well.


a round-up of thrift, march 2024.

It is yet again time for me to amuse you, my friends. Last time I amused you in February. Ever since then it did not get much better. But we tryin’. If you want to know what this is about and why it’s hilarious for both me and the masses, read the first couple paragraphs of the February post.

As always, I encourage comments, but please don’t tell me how to save money: Chances are high I know more than you. I just don’t do any of it for reasons you can find in February post.

So. On to the unbelievable thrift I have voluntarily endured in March.

I mostly rode Economy class cabs, but I do admit not taking the trolley to work many times over. There were two-three times I stayed at work long enough to take the first trolleybus home. I ain’t gonna pretend it evened out, though.

No takeout. Not once. I did peruse the supermarket deli, though, but considerably less. Same goes for the bakery for my usual coffee and things. I went less times. I think overall I went under 10 times.

Kept a good track of spending up until… 18th or so.

On the last day of the month I broke my electric kettle – and I won’t be replacing it. I might repair it in May – if it is repairable – but for now I’ll be using gas. If you’re wondering what’s broken – I dropped it on the floor. Thank God it was cold and empty. I dropped it, and I guess it hit somewhere near the switch, because the switch is all loose and not how a switch should be.

Shopped around for my cats’ food. I am not going to switch them to a different cheaper diet, but I did look where I can get the same stuff they usually eat for less. The search will continue in April, because so far I was only able to save $0.5 per kilo.

I did not buy laundry detergent. Because I have one at home. Let me explain: I prefer the gel pods. Majority of the powdered stuff makes me itchy. Home-made concoction is not it. Also, since most of the loads I do are short and cold to save on electricity, powdered detergent and even home-made mix of baking soda etc. do not get washed out properly. I have to inspect every wash to make sure that it’s not visible, and then I have to rewash clothes, thus doing extra cycles and spending more electricity anyway – and it makes me itchy. I’m sure the efficiency of washes has something to do with the age of my machine, but we’re not going to complain about its age here. We’re happy it’s still working.

Anyway, so I prefer pods. But, I have some laundry sheets, some gel samples, and also some soap nuts in my arsenal. So once I’m out of pods – and I’m still not out, but I will be soon – I will just use what I have first.

I did not buy any new books. Audiobooks, e-books, paper books – nothing. I even talked myself out of using a gift card that I have, because it’s hard to match the amount exactly, and I can’t underspend, because the remainder will expire the moment I use the card, and I don’t want to overspend, because I will be inclined to over-overspend.

I paid a little bit more on one of the loans I currently have out. It all went towards the body of the loan, thus lessening the amount I need to pay monthly. Not all loans I have allow me to do that. Two of them only allow full amount to be paid towards the body, and anything extra just goes towards next monthly payment. Three loans allow that, but there’s a limit to how small the sum can be. And what they’re asking for, I don’t have that much extra. There are five loans however that allow small payments to be done towards the body of the loan. These are the first ones I’m trying to tackle.

I used the ground coffee I have instead of automatically replacing capsules. I do admit that once salary hit, I went and bought some (they were having a half-off sale if that is some excuse). I also tried using my reusable capsules, but the type I have doesn’t work well with either of my machines, it seems. Dolce Gusto is doing a little better, but there’s still some leakage. Nespresso is a fail two times out of three. Which in my book translates to ‘waste of good coffee’, so I use my moka or cezve. The French press I have is massive, so I don’t use it most of the time, but I’m thinking I might use it to try make a cold brew once we hit the higher temps.

I heavily relied on free medical services, bestowed unto me so generously by the joint forces of my employer and the government. Everything is very slow – very slow. Were I in a private clinic, I would have had my surgery already and were deeply into recovery by now. And I think I mentioned last time that I did have to pay for some things to speed it up – I can’t wait over 6 months. But everything else I have tried and so far succeeded to do for free. Lord does the dragging out of it all give me anxiety, but I shall count my blessings.

More on a miserly note – I decided not to buy anyone anything for IWD this year. Usually I try to give at least a small token of appreciation, be it a chapstick or a candy bar or a flower. But this year I had to stop myself.

More of the same, really – didn’t buy myself or my friends and colleagues Martisors.

Stopped myself from buying music sheets – I am reacquainting myself with piano, and lawd is it testing my will power. But I recognise that my level, if it can be called that, is so low, that what I have in the house or have found for free on the internet is more than enough for now.

By the end of the month I had 500 in cash in my wallet. It would have been an undeniable win – however my bank accounts were wiped clear by loan payments, and these payments weren’t made in full. So we’re back to being in the red with the recurring pays. My goal for April is to be a little less in the red. I know I will not be able to even it out, so I just want to lessen the gap.


10 late bills and half a euro to my name

November has been financially hard. Why would it be, I wonder. Oh if it isn’t the result of my constant indiscretions.

But it’s nothing that you and I don’t know already.

As illogical as it sounds, to somehow mitigate the increasingly onerous weight of my financial obligations, I actually called several financial institutions to see if I can get a line of credit with them – but I can’t. Unless I go to an actual loan shark – and I don’t have such plans – I can’t borrow any more money.


But it also means that I have practically zero “variable” money left. And by “variable” I mean anything that’s not a bill or a payment. Groceries, fuel, cat food, hygiene products, medicine – anything you can think of that’s not a bill or a regular payment is a “variable” to me right now. So if I can cut something out of these variables, then I will cut something out of these variables.

Essentially what it will be is a no-spend challenge, except it’s less fun because I’m not trying to save money, I’m trying to survive on what money I have coming in. And I believe I’ve mentioned it somewhere, but I have a good amount coming in. This is not an income problem. I’m just an idiot. One can make a million and spend a million and a hundred thousand and still grasp at straws trying to make ends meet. And while I don’t make a million, my problem is still not a low wage or underemployment. Like I said. I’m just an idiot.

So most expenses will go. I will keep three of my entertainment subscriptions because I need something to keep me sane, and honestly, they are not the problem. Even after all my bills I have a decent chunk of money for Netflix, so to speak. The problem for me is random discretionary spending here and there, which I shall from now on refer to as “money littering”. Two coffees out a day, take-out breakfast/ lunch/ dinner, another notebook that I’m never going to get around to using, another book to add to my pile of literal thousands of books that I bought before and have yet to read. A new foundation, tenth nude lipstick, eight nail polishes and fifteen sheet masks because I’m like a kid in a candy store when I see these things. Three tops that I buy without trying them on because I liked the cut of them. Five cakes that I buy the next day, because none of the tops fit and I need to make myself feel better.

And all of that is peppered by me actually buying groceries with good intentions of cooking my next lunch, and then just letting them all literally rot on the counter or in the fridge. Because the cakes I ate left me exhausted and unhappy, so I decide to give myself a break and start the next day.

I am insane. My mind works, truly, but sometimes it works against me.

Here’s my plan.

I know it’s all common sense. And some of it won’t be. Some of it will be just me being too easy on myself again. Trust me. I’ve been on the other side of the screen as well, reading blogs of people who advise you to economise by sewing a button back on a shirt instead of buying a new shirt. This reads like that, I’m sure.

But here’s my plan.

1. Have a fun goal to save towards.

Mine is Foil Arms and Hog performing in one of the cities that’s close enough for me to consider a trip there, and also a tablet to increase the quality of my illustrations

2. Keep the non-fun goals at the forefront of my mind as well, but try not to dwell.

This is likely the hardest part, the not dwelling part. The non-fun goals are the obvious debt reduction, the washing machine, the bathroom reno, and an operation that I keep postponing, but really should just get done already.

3. …. ?

4. Profit.

(I jest. This is not a manifesting blog.)

3. Reduce the variable expenses by doing the following

a. hypermile. So no more speeding 120/hr over the bridge for me. Try to get a full tank at the start of the month and stick to that tank until the end of the month. After my car got switched over to stick shift it started getting amazing mileage, so it shouldn’t be an issue. I hardly drive except to and from work.

b. cook at home. I’m a good cook, and I have skills that allow me to just shop for cheapest ingredients and make palatable dishes from them. Being a big aficionado of simple/ poor folk/ peasant food – how classist of me – helps greatly. I’d rather have potato stew over something fancy nearly every day of the year. But should I desire something fancy, I likely have a cookbook with a recipe or I can google that recipe and make it at home. Unless the dish is especially delicate or fancy, I can cook it.

c. read the books I have. Technically speaking even the ones that I have as ‘currently reading‘ would be enough to keep me busy for half a year

d. pace myself with comics. I won’t drop them, they make me too happy, but I will have to read them much more slowly and be on the look-out for free points/ coins/ ink/ whatever

e. no more toys and extra treats/ snacks for cats! My children will get an allowance, just like I will. I’ll get them their cheese bits within that allowance.

f. shop around for cheaper foodstuffs

g. no-spend for beauty and hygiene. Obviously I will still wash my hair and shave my pits. I’ll just use the shampoos and creams I already have a-plenty instead of buying new ones

h. one coffee out per week, if that. I’ve got a nespresso machine and a dolce gusto one, I’ve got a moka pot, a french press, I can do drip, I can do dalgona. I can even do matcha almond latte, despite the ridiculous price of both matcha and almond milk. It would – OH REALLY – still be cheaper than getting a matcha almond latte in a coffee shop. The price of two coffees out is enough to cover 200g of good beans or ground coffee. Two more coffees out, and I’ve covered 3.5L milk I need to make my lattes. It’s basic maths. I know how it works, I just don’t do it.

i. make a meal plan and grocery shop once a week. It may have to be two-three runs to different shops (see point 3.f.), but it should be done in one day

4. Record all income and all expenditure with obsessive detail

a. keep a private hand-written notebook
b. do a graph of income, outcome, and eventually savings to get an overview of a longer period
c. do public audits of various points of this list here on the blog

5. Use cash for everything but bills and regular payments that are easier to just schedule via online banking.

6. Leave card at home.

7. Only take money that I intend to spend that day with me.

8. Increase income by doing one or all of the following

a. tutoring English and Spanish
b. Tarot readings
c. photo and illustration selling via RedBubble
d. book cover designs via seller platforms
e. any paid overtime that might be thrown out at work
f. product photography for local businesses; see if I can get some portrait gigs as well

9. Keep myself busy and keep the dopamine coming with something useful

a. keep up with this blog
b. start vlogging again
c. maintain Spanish and Romanian
d. get to a comfortable level of German
e. faster progress in Korean and Japanese
f. piano practice
g. Skillshare classes for whatever sudden interest I get, e.g. woodburning
h. journal the fuck out of my days etc. I LOVE keeping notebooks
i. take walks to take photos to sell and also to bring that blood pressure and weight down.
j. write and illustrate my magnum opus

10. Get back to zero waste principles

a. take good care of the things I own
b. eradicate food waste
c. shop second-hand for anything I actually need
d. mend clothes
e. see if I can use something I already own for this or that task instead of immediately rushing out to buy

I may or may not come back to this post to edit various points, but likely I will just extrapolate on the matter in other posts.


things to do for free

A follow-up on previous post, I came up with a list of things I can do for free, or near-free, whenever I find myself in a financial pickle. I just wish I have the sense to return to it when needed.

  • Read the books I own.
  • Write in my journal.
  • Work on the blog.
  • Clean the house.
  • Deep clean the house.
  • Plan outfits.
  • … or just play dress-up.
  • Cook.
  • Play with cats.
  • Take walks up and down streets that don’t have many shops, leave wallet at home.
  • Play piano using free music sheets – find the ones from my olden days of music school, use office printer to print out the ones I find online.
  • Draw.
  • Exercise.
  • Play with makeup.
  • Learn languages.
  • Improve skills in the languages I already know.
  • Talk to brother.
  • Get back to running. (This one requires an investment – decent running shoes.)
  • Unfortunately driving isn’t free what’s with the rising fuel prices, but it’s still cheaper than a lot of other shit, so – drive.
  • Write book reviews.
  • Watch movies and tv shows with all the subscriptions that I’m paying for.
  • Do no-spend challenges.
  • Write recipes using pantry foods.
  • Ride public transport in off-peak hours, choose a random stop to get off on, explore the nearest three blocks.
  • Take DSLR out to play.
  • Write beauty reviews for [redacted].
  • Take good pictures of beauty products too.
  • Write up the history of my travels.
  • Resurrect [redacted].
  • Volunteer? (Question mark, because there are not many options here, but I’ll be on the lookout.)
  • Study Tarot.
  • Practise witchcraft.
  • Work on grimoire and book of shadows.
  • Study psychology.
  • An elaborate skincare routine using all the products I bought.
  • An elaborate hygiene routine.
  • Take baths (water is “free”, as in I pay a set amount per month, regardless of how much I use, so the only limit here is my conscience).
  • Assemble all the puzzles and Lego that I have that are still waiting for attention.
  • If I go for drives, do ‘drive with me’ videos. I need to get a car mount for that again, though. But that’s the only investment, so to speak.
  • Study art history.
  • Go on dates and freeload off of people.

(Well that escalated quickly.)

(Actually that one won’t work, unless I do plan to sleep with the person. That would make the relationship transactional, and everyone could go on their merry way at any given moment.)

Let’s continue.

  • Clean up and take good care of the graves of my ancestors. I have… eight to take care of.
  • Organise – like, seriously, retentively – my library.
  • Go to church, both orthodox and catholic. Service/ mass relax me.
  • Film vlogs.
  • Listen to music.
  • Go to museums and art galleries again and again. This is not free, but as far as entertainment in the city goes, this is the cheapest.
  • Indulge in piracy.
  • Go to the library.
  • Bribe what’s left of my friend circle with homemade baked goods and go on home-brewed coffee dates in the park.

Shit, Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Solo Violin rips my heart out.

  • Study ikonography.
  • Learn tiktok dances.
  • Practise asanas.
  • Read the bible.
  • Bum about in SkillShare and do a metric tonne of courses on subjects that look vaguely interesting/ useful.
  • Do all the exercise videos stored on my computer until I can complete them start to finish without hyperventilating.
  • Work on my car – clean, organise, read about it, etc.
  • Learn software I pay for – i.e. Adobe.
  • Organise decades of photos, both digital and printed.
  • Origami.
  • Paint with supplies I have on hand.
  • Run my photos through Spiral Betty and pencil them in.
  • Sleep.
Dear Diary

hot days

It’s hot here these days. I have 4 days left here, and on the 5th, Sunday, I am leaving for the capital, and then for home. My flight got rescheduled about two hours late, but it’s fine. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to the supermarket in time to get cat litter and food. Thinking if I should maybe buy food here, but what can I get here that’s shelf-stable?

I think I have like a can of beans at home, I could eat that with rice or pasta.

Cat litter will just have to wait until next day. I’ll wash litterboxes and that would be it.

I really hope that father won’t come on Sunday, but I’m afraid he will. Which means there will be no rest for the wicked, and then a five day work week, and then maybe, MAYBE, some quiet next weekend. The heat is supposed to dissipate at least a little, but it’s still going to be in the low thirties to high twenties. At least the nights are cooler now.

I also need to go get a hair cut and dye job sooner rather than later, but again, not happening on Sunday – wasn’t supposed to happen – and likely won’t happen on Monday. So next time my hair will be sufficiently dirty is… Thursday? Or maybe just wait out until Saturday/ Sunday. We’ll see how my sleep pattern is going to be.

It appears that I’m just sitting listening to music. My new jam is slowed/ reverb playlists. Trying to get my mind to focus has been difficult for the past couple of days, I wonder why. Yesterday it was probably a migraine. Today I don’t know, maybe I’m tired from all the social activities.

Job hasn’t been bothering me very much. On the contrary, some tasks I had to do were pleasant. Yet I am triggered – incompetence and greed surround me.

Wrote about it in the other doc yesterday, but I find myself at a financial disadvantage once more. I suppose that’s the consequence of my constant indiscretions.

I’ve got about 11k left + 2 more on the way for rent. That’s enough to pay subscriptions and two credits + pawn shop, with about 3-4k to spare. These 3-4 k would need to be distributed very wisely for daily necessities and at least SOME of the utility bills.

I mentioned it before here, there, and everywhere, but my default should be not spending. Like, every time I want to spend money, my thought should be, ‘how can I do this without money?’ Do I have a substitute? Can I do without? Can I ask somebody for a favour/ barter for skill? If there’s no choice but to spend money, then I should look for the cheapest option. Maybe I need less. Maybe I can use something that’s less expensive.

Of course there will be slips, and of course I will spend money. But I guess I just need to be very selective with the usual list of my indiscretions, and learn to control my impulses.

I think one of the things that can be very helpful in the matter is keeping myself busy instead of spending money. I do need to keep in mind that keeping myself intentionally busy usually results in hypomania, though.