When I worked at a deli in college one of the registers would occasionally go on the fritz. Late one night I was the only person working and made up a simple ham & Swiss for a very young-looking kid. When he gave me his card to swipe the register went wonky and I probably rolled my eyes and scowled and he must have thought it was because his card was declined. He started apologizing profusely because he had no cash and he'd already opened the bottle of Snapple and he was just mortified by the situation. I had to interrupt him to say the issue was on my end, handed him his card and told him it was on me. For the next year and a half that kid was a regular at the deli and always tipped well. What goes around comes around.
When I was looking at colleges I had for a time my heart set on Northwestern but when it came down to it I chose in-state tuition at UW-Madison instead. This was mainly because my parents were resolute in their stance: they'd pay for the first two semesters and I had to arrange the rest. Financial aid from NU was not forthcoming and the amount of debt I would have incurred, well it gives me pause.
It must be a common trait for Midwestern landlords to go from 0 to 100 on the rage-o-meter because I've had a few in Madison as well. The worst one was an initially genial older man that was very concerning as to the well-being of the apartment walls. He expressly forbade hanging pictures or posters unless you utilized the corkboard strips he'd affixed to the walls. My roommates and I agreed and tacked up a few posters in the living room but otherwise left the walls alone. Two months in we received a letter decrying our defacement of the kitchen and threatening eviction. When I called him about it he said that he'd been checking on the apartment during the day when we were all out and claimed the kitchen was "just ruined now" and that he was "incredibly disappointed in our behavior." I think it might have been the ironing board leaned up against the wall behind the back door. The remaining eight months were strained to say the least, and that security deposit was of course used up by "wall repairs."
My college decision came down to Northwestern and Wisconsin. My parents offered to pay for the first two semesters at either school but in-state tuition at UW was so much less than NU. I really loved Northwestern during my campus visits and I almost convinced myself the prestige was worth it. In the end I choose UW and between my savings and EE bonds from my grandfather I graduated debt free. However when I tell the story I always say my decision was made because I just don't like the color purple.
I did well this weekend, helped by the fact my Saturday plans were scuppered by the rising Wisconsin River. Friday I left work a bit early and met up with a friend downtown for a special tapping of her favorite beer. We stayed for a couple hours and I paid for the second round and a veggie platter ($45) and parking ($5). I had plans later that night to see a show but my friends canceled at the last minute and I didn't like the band enough to go solo. Saturday I had planned on going to my old roommate's family cabin for a bit of fishing but the spring thaw and rains put those plans on hold. Instead I went to two of my favorite record stores and indulged on a few Record Store Day special releases ($140 total). I bought lunch ($6) and spent the remainder of the day listening to music and enjoying the sun. Sunday I went down to my parents' and helped my father split firewood. I picked up bulk coffee for myself, my mother and my sister ($50) and a Sunday Trib ($3) on my way down.
The past two years I have gone through and totaled my online purchases that weren't taxed, if only because my accountant asked me if I was able to do so. I'm apparently fortunate in that I never delete receipt emails so it only took 20 minutes to sort through my 2012 totals. It turns out I spent $1,100 last year, down a grand from the year before.
@frenz.lo No, thankfully I was driving to the interview and could stow that big bag in my trunk. And you better believe I was sick of potatoes and rice by the time I'd graduated and started working full time.
The food thing really reminds me of when I transitioned out of college and into the workforce. I had a part-time job at an Italian deli my last couple years of school which allowed me to subsist on expired lasagne and old bread, but unfortunately the place closed (not due to my bread-taking) before my last semester. I was debt-free throughout college and wanted to stay that way so the grocery budget for those last six months was inventive to say the least. Once on the way to an interview I came across a man selling potatoes out of the back of a truck and for under $15 I came away with a 50 pound bag. I'd also get bulk bags of rice from the Asian grocery store, which I'd top with butter my father brought me (individually-wrapped butter patties, at least 250) after a charity pancake breakfast. I was never in poverty - I had the support of my family and opportunities to get employment readily available. But the experience certainly gave me a good outlook on what it could be like, and I still remember it when I'm perusing the fruits and vegetables at my local co-op.
Did well this weekend. Friday I took my car in for scheduled service ($160) and had lunch while watching basketball at a nearby sports bar ($16). Later that afternoon I met up with my sister and we went to the playoff hockey game, grabbing dinner beforehand ($33 for the both of us). After the game we all stopped for a drink at a downtown bar and I bought the first round ($22 inc. tip). Saturday I took my sister out for breakfast at her favorite spot ($21) and then we swung by the Co-op where I bought her fresh fruit and coffee ($36) as the picking are somewhat slim in her town. Later that evening I volunteered at the hockey game, spending $5 to park and $6 on a late night burrito after the game. Sunday I went down to visit my parents, picking up bulk coffee ($32) and the Sunday Trib ($3) on the way. We went to the local Scout troop's pancake breakfast then in the evening we did the traditional corned beef and cabbage at the local bar. Both times my father picked up the tab.
Having a chronic illness and trying to maintain a full-time position is a very hard thing to do. A former coworker of mine was diagnosed with Crohn's and it was rough. At the time I was at a small company that was relatively strapped for cash and we just didn't have the ability to bring on temporary people to fill in for her absences. I hate to admit it but there were nights when I was stuck in the office trying to do the work of two and I really resented my coworker over it. I just didn't know how bad a chronic illness affects simply everything in your life.