I think it helps when all the choices for lunch near your work are terrible and you are in constant regret whenever spending money there. Also, I tend to gain weight and get sick if I eat out too often. It saves a lot of money that I can blow on extravagant meals. I spent $400 on a dinner for two last year with wine pairing and not a single regret.
@CMD+click I'm basically the same as @loren smith (though they're much better at it than I am!). I've been cooking for long enough that I have tons of stuff in my freezer ready to go so every week is just buying whatever I don't already have. I actually go some months of the year without going to the grocery store and just eating up my freezer and pantry. Right now I have enough rice, noodles, black beans, eggs, frozen fruits and veggies, baking supplies, chicken and beef stock to last me several weeks and in my freezer are a pork loin, a bag of shrimp, a family size of chicken thighs, some chicken breasts and a salmon steak. And I have some meals I froze from before. So I actually don't need to buy anything for awhile. But I could spend the week's groceries on beer. =P It costs a lot of money to start but once you get the hang of it, there's no reason you have to buy everything you eat for the week every week like they do in the Food Stamp Challenge. And to be fair, I eat out twice a week.
I'm really impressed with how nice the comments are here. Everywhere else was "How dare Gwyneth do this when she's so rich" blah blah. I've made dried black beans before. It lasts forever. She probably won't starve but she will think "I'd rather starve than eat another black bean!" GP was so much better at shopping than all those other people who tried the challenge and bought drinks or canned black beans. Her choices are pretty spot on to what I would buy. I assume the limes are for her water and for flavoring the rice with the cilantro. I spend about $30/week for a single person for groceries without even being on a budget so in my mind, it's not that hard. (I mean, it's hard if you have the stresses of poverty but the actual spending of $29/week in groceries isn't impossible)
I'm so disappointed that this is still not clear! Like @aetataureate said, what is the real situation with her parents' retirement? Also, I agree with @j a y - how much money does this girl make? If she makes minimum wage at $15k a year and doesn't pay rent, utilities, loans or likely food, and if she saved just half, then she should have saved at least $20k over 3 years. And if she really makes so little money, what a jerk thing to say about her brother - who in this scenario would only make $45k and pays for his rent. Of course, if he's getting a $9k refund, he probably makes a lot more than that, which would mean she's making more. Which makes her paltry savings rate even more inexplicable. Maybe the parents know she's a terrible saver (she misinterpreted their "beaming" with "embarrassment") and want to keep the money to protect her from her wanton ways.
I find it interesting that so many people here give to Planned Parenthood. Where I live, Planned Parenthood is awful. They are the closest ob/gyn to me and they never answered the phone when I tried calling. Their reviews are bad and there are other places that perform the same services. It's like I support medical benefits for veterans but would never give money to the VA. I would give money to veterans and to women but not to these orgs. But maybe it's better in other areas.
@yellowshoes When I first started giving to charity, it felt like SO MUCH MONEY just frittering away. But also I felt like a Rockefeller. Here I am, this nobody straight out of college, and I can afford to give to charity. I am helping people. It's (probably) similar to finding out you can afford designer shoes. It completely changed how I looked at my budget. I stopped feeling like money was scarce and started feeling rich. Further, giving to charity made me feel legitimate. I felt like how can I really say I believe in this if I wasn't willing to put the money there as support? So now I do. I also found my charities by volunteering so I knew how my money was being used. Like DC Books to Prisons. Volunteers read letters from prisoners and send them books. Their only cost is postage. The leader was so frugal that she tried to get us to reduce the amount of tape we used. I feel incredibly good about sending money here because I believe in this cause and I know it's a good organization that isn't wasting money. Also Modest Needs sends out thank you letters for every gofundme type application you help fund. I took a tour of the Carpenter's Shelter and we talked to a woman who was turning her life around through their programs. It also helps that my charities of choice are poverty-related so I have to pull myself out of my yuppie existence and see how good I really have it. So maybe you just need to find your organization.
I understand the LW's concern that charity be a line-item in the budget right from the get-go, just like for netflix. Waiting for when you "have enough" may mean never. Also, as you get older, I feel like you will run out of time more quickly than money. So though it's good to give time, I don't think that habit will be sustainable. I started giving to charity when I was straight out of college and it was painful then. It's even painful now that I'm dealing with bigger numbers. But the habit is instilled in me. I give to Modest Needs, Carpenter's Shelter, DC Books to Prisons, and my church, where I volunteer. I've actually volunteered for two of those other orgs too so I know how good they are and where my money is going.
Spendy weekend because my BFF is visiting! Friday- just hanging out trying on and taking pictures of my product samples (socks), which just arrived. Maybe buying domain name and website stuff. Boring $50 (I have no idea). Going to try to make some sort of dinner at home even though I forgot to defrost stuff. Breakfast and lunch will be at home because ugh too much money spent! Also he'll appreciate home cooking. Groceries: $30. So I lost a bet and have to treat him somewhere spendy for dinner. We probably can't make reservations anywhere crazy expensive last minute. Probably $200 on dinner (that's spendy but not bet-winning spendy). Gambling is expensive but so delicious! April is 5% cashback on restaurants anyway. 90 minute Couple's massage $220 + tip. Sunday: Easter! Brunch after church provided by church. Probably reading or hanging out. Then driving him to the train station. =( Estimate: ~$500
I'm not complaining but I never received my congratulatory note after paying off my law school loans last July. Of course, paying off the loans was its own reward but notes are nice too.
@CJ Cregg I bought a chef's knife too! I spend so much time cutting stuff with my old knives, I'm sure it'll be worth it.