A girl, a move, and her bank account

Since Saturday’s less-than-stellar race, I have been chugging along with the training. I haven’t been feeling awesome, but I’ve been getting some good sleep, eating the right things, and taking my multi-vitamin. Here’s hoping my legs get some pop back into them soon! Last week I hit 49 miles, which was about on target. The plan for this week is as follows:

Monday, August 8 – 4 miles (easy)

Tuesday, August 9 – 7 miles (easy)

Wednesday, August 10 – 8 miles + strides and core work

Thursday, August 11 – CPTC tempo workout (8 miles total)

Friday, August 12 – 7 miles + strides and core work

Saturday, August 13 – 12 miles (fast finish long run)

Sunday, August 14 – 6 miles (easy), hopefully with Angry Runner!!

Total: 52 miles

My quality workouts will be the Thursday tempo and the the Saturday long run. Since I won’t have much recovery time between the tempo and the long run, I may end up reducing Friday’s mileage. I also plan on making Monday, August 15th a complete rest day – very much looking forward to that!

I’m not sure if I’ve made an official announcement yet, but barring any disasters, I’m moving to a new apartment in Brooklyn in about 10 days. I’m going to have my own place (the top floor of a brownstone house) and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to move! My last two moves have been marked my times of uncertainty. In 2007, I was just out of college and starting my first job in a new city. In 2009, I was coming off a bad break-up and dealing with a a running injury. Not exactly my favorite times.  But now in 2011, I can honestly say I am quite happy with the ways things are shaking out.  I have a strong network of friends, I feel secure with my job (even if it’s not my dream career – it gives me the time to do other things I love), and while I haven’t been running PR’s, at least I’m not injured! I was walking around my future neighborhood the other day and I just felt so happy, so excited to be making this change in my life.

Okay Megan, we get it. You’re excited. So what’s the point of this post? OH RIGHT. So yeah, between security deposits, first AND last month’s rent, uhaul rentals, and new IKEA acquisitions, my bank account balance is pretty pathetic. I’ve been trying to find little ways to save money ($5-10 here or there can add up over the course of a few months!) and I thought I’d share them on the blog.

By now, everyone and their mother is aware of sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Bloomspot. Every day my inbox fills up with tempting offers – $20 for $40 worth of ice cream! Discounts on pedicures! Two-for-one hotel deals! I usually have to restrain myself from making purchases. Lately, I’ve been a fan of the “groupon now” deals – you purchase a deal, but then have to use it within the next few hours. I’ve scored a $1 lunch salad and 1/2 off running shoes this way. Plus it guarantees that you won’t buy a deal for a fancy restaurant and then never use it…

Being a social media addict can reap big rewards, last week I scored a huge class of wine for free – just for checking into the bar on FourSquare. Everytime I go to a store or restaurant, I look them up on FourSquare or Yelp to see if they offer a discount or free item for customers.

ScoutMob is another great service that offers up 50% discounts for patrons. If you have a smartphone, download the app and then before heading out for drinks or a meal, check and see what deals are in the area. The best thing about this service is that it’s FREE. 50% discount – no pre-purchasing of coupons necessary! On Sunday, I visited Luscious Foods in Brooklyn and got a huge sandwich for $5 (instead of $10).

House-smoked turkey, brie, sliced apple, honey mustard, red onion, and lettuce on whole wheat ciabatta bread. YUM.

While we were at the cafe, I noticed a flyer for free museum admission. On Sunday, the Brooklyn Museum, Children’s Museum, and Botanical Gardens were free for the day. Sweet! The man-friend and I headed over to the BK Museum and saved ourselves $10 each. I’m subscribed to some daily newsletters that advertise free/low cost events in NYC, my favorites are: the skint, Vital Juice, Brokelyn, and Brooklyn Based. Even if you don’t live in New York, your city might have similar deal websites!

My favorite piece from Sunday’s museum visit:

Fallen Bierstadt by Valerie Hegarty

I am also a fervent “frequent customer card” user. From my favorite salad place (Chopt!) to the corner coffee shop, it pays to ask for the frequent user card. Caffeine behemoth Starbucks has an especially good program – a free drink (any size, any type!) for every 15 drink purchases. They also give you a free drink coupon on your birthday and offer other specials to their frequent customers. Just the other day I set up my gift card to automatically re-load and they gave me a $5 bonus. Not bad for something I was going to do anyway!

My trick for  Starbucks is to order the simplest/cheapest drink when I’m paying on my own (I usually get a tall iced coffee in a grande cup – this leaves room for milk!) and then splurge on more expensive drinks when I have a “free drink” coupon. Common sense? Sure, but I always sort of feel like I’m beating the system. I do the same thing at Chopt – most of the time I skip the fancy mix-ins and just order the basic $6.99 salad, but when it’s free? Bring on the $$ avocado and $$$ grilled shrimp!

With my impending move, I’ve also gotten pretty creative with freezer and pantry ingredients. Instead of a traditional dinner (too hot to cook anyway!), I toasted up some Arnold healthful bread that was in the freezer and topped it with peanut butter, sliced strawberries, honey, and chia seeds. Not gourmet, but it didn’t require a trip to the grocery store or a take-out menu!

And my biggest tip for saving money? Meet your running buddies for a few miles. Do that once a week instead of happy hour and you’ll save at least $500 dollars a year.

What’s your best money saving secret (bonus points if it involves yummy food…)?

  • I completely understand how your bank account feels. I am moving for the second time in less than a year in Boston, and the whole first, last, security is killer. Nevermind the cost of moving trucks, furniture, etc. I always keep a spreadsheet of my budget, but lately I have been trying to follow it better to get my savings back up there.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to Brooklyn!  If you’re looking to join a running group, I recently started going to South Brooklyn Running Club (http://southbrooklynrunning.com/) runs, and they’re great.

  • Moving in the city is so stressful and expensive. It’s cool to see how excited you are about this move and making the best of it! I haven’t used a Groupon Now deal yet, but I have checked them out. Guess I need to pay closer attention so I can score some 1/2 off running shoes too! Good luck with the move!

  • Ali

    I like the running buddies tip the best 🙂

    This is all great advice though. I really need to take better care of my poor, sad little wallet and overworked debit card.

    And I’m SO excited for you right now. As tragic as it is that you’re leaving Manhattan, I’m so pumped that you’re in a great place and are feeling happy about your move. I guess MAYBE I will run in Brooklyn sometime, if you’re willing to show me around. And you should probably have a housewarming party. I’ll bring the wine…and the drunkenness.

  • Congrats on the new place and good luck with the move. It’s never easy and definitely hurts the account – but a month from now you’ll be settled!
    Great advice – especially the GrouponNow! I never heard of it (but get groupon and livingsocial deals everyday). I just popped in my zip code and there were a bunch of great deals near me. Thanks. I also recently started foursquare, I just need to remember to “check in” more often!
    My best money saving advice? BYOB!!!! Whenever my husband and I go out, the majority of the time we try to find BYO’s – we save SO much. There are tons of BYO’s here in Philly – not sure if you guys have ’em up in NYC, but its the best. 

  • I’m going on my 3rd month of unemployment so I’m ALL about the money saving… to save some dough during the last few months, I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to eat out (both take out and legit restaurants) unless I was with someone else. I had the time to cook for myself, so hitting up Panera really wasn’t necessary. Also, I could still eat out socially and enjoy myself.

  • Anonymous

    great tip! i should check out more BYOB places in my neighborhood. any favorites in philly? i’m looking for somewhere to celebrate post-race 🙂

  • Melissaburton0214

    Welcome to Bklyn (my hood). There are plenty of places in the hood that are budget friendly (Olive Vine), $20 Manu/pedis Polish (5th Ave/Sterling) among other places. We need a good fro yo place (Culture and Wicked Spoon don’t do it for me) Now you are close to my favorite run ever, the Brooklyn Bridge! Hope you love the hood!

  • Don’t forget the 16 Handles punch cards. Or maybe it is only me that always seems to spend over $5 when I go there…

    Good luck with the move! Sounds like you are excited!

  • Anonymous

    yesss! 16 handles. i just got an email today announcing that their punch card is now available as an app (more eco friendly)!

  • AR

    I was looking to hit 6 too on Sunday. YAY.

    Lately I’ve gotten better at using credit cards when I can get money back and that’s IT. While I still have some that need to be paid off, I’ve got a few bills set to go ton my jet blue card just for the miles. And Discover has some awesome bonuses that you can take in gift cards. Helpful.

  • Anonymous

    that’s a good idea re: using a credit card to pay recurring bills. right now my internet and electric come out of my bank account, but i could easily switch it to credit cards (and then pay it off at month’s end)….

    and nicole wants to join us for our (hungover) run!

  • Amanda

    I’ve started using cash as my spending money during the week/weekend for smaller purchases ie: groceries, drinks, random trips to Target.  It makes you spend less when you see the actual money rather than putting down plastic.  Being only one year out of college and just starting out, its really easy to spend money!

    I’ve just stared reading your blog and I really love it.  I definiately love to cook and am just getting into running.  I’m hoping to run a half marathon in October so you give me inspiration.  Good luck with the move!

  • Hi Megan!  Love your blog!

    We do a lot of those things too and love them. We’ve also started growing vegetables & herbs in our yard (heirloom tomatoes, limes, all kinds of lettuce, basil, thyme, cilantro, mint, etc.). It’s not a HUGE money saver, but it does help. Plus it’s really fun to have salad & mojitos with dinner where we grew 90% of the ingredients ourselves. 🙂

    Sales at restaurant coupon sites like Savored.com & VillageVines are also great for when you’re feeling a little splurge-y — you can often get deals that let you eat at $$$ spots for $$ prices.

  • Oh moving… so much fun… I had to also lay down some serious cash for my current place. Killer!

    My best money saving tip for the girl who likes to go out is to use restaurant.com. I get $25 gift certicates for $2-3!

  • Anonymous

    i love Savored.com! and if you refer friends, you can usually bypass the $10 reservation fee 🙂

  • Everything always seems to be on sale here, so my current money-saving secret is giant DIY salads. For about $10, I can get enough fresh ingredients for three lunches. Also, making my own coffee 99% of the time. Maybe it’s because there isn’t a decent coffee shop within walking distance of my apartment, or the fact that the office kitchen has a cappuccino machine, but this one has been easy lately.

    Congrats on the move! Yay for outer-borough love. 🙂

  • Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes

    I love peanut butter and strawberries together…yum!  Eating healthy can be expensive. I now have gotten in the habit of thinking ahead and deciding on some of the things that I would like to eat in the week.  This way I don’t waste money on unnecessary items in my shopping trolley. 

  • Hmm…I’m not the best in the “saving money” department, but then again – I have no income! 🙂 I take any and all free food I can get. Med students scout all the free food around the medical center! Nut butters are also pretty cheap when it comes down to it. I try to not buy so much bottled water and just got a french press so I can make my own coffee instead of spending $2.50+ per day on it! 

  • Don’t leaaavvveeee! We will miss you so much, but huge congrats on your own place. I know you’ll totally love it!

    I think I save a ton by cooking a lot of my meals and avoiding takeout. I also don’t go into clothing stores very often if I’m trying to save money – if I don’t know what they have, I won’t want it. But if I do know, then watch out, I cannot be stopped. Yay for 6:00 a.m. “happy hours” 🙂

  • Marcie Smithe

    Instead of spending less, you can just earn more! Have the man-friend donate at the local sperm bank, and charge him a fee if you help him. Also, soak up living in Harlem the last few weeks – you are WAY hotter than all the other whores out there. Third, hit up the fountains in NYC…I see kids playing in the water/change in Washington Square Park all the time! If none of these work, you can always sell tupperware.

  • Anonymous

    I was also considering pole dancing for extra cash, but your suggestions sound less strenuous!

  • Anonymous

    Matyson restaurant in Philly is one of my fave BYO’s and the food is outstanding.  It is in Center City in the Rittenhouse Square area.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

  • Move in with your parents! Money saved: $1200. Damage done to your pride: almost limitless. 

  • Also, they pretty regularly have sales where you can get the coupons for $2 instead of $10!

  • Anonymous

    auto transfer to from checking to savings each paycheck…it doesn’t matter what I’m saving for (travel, fun, retirement)

  • i love that you are so thrifty and all about the dealz! i find the scoutmob deals to be the best bang for your buck, especially because you don’t have to pay upfront and then feel pressured into eating out… which makes it not a deal, ya know? i also find some of the restaurants to be sort of meh, but scoutmob picks better ones, usually. i had mediocre mexican food last night at some e. village spot, but tonight had pretty good cuban-ish food in williamsburg, the latter of dates which cost only $17 for a humongous sandwich, a tasty mojito, tax and tip. not bad, huh? now if only screme gelato had some crazy deal goin’ on, i’d be golden.

    in general, i try not to drink coffee out if i can avoid it, and pack my lunch as often as possible. if i promise myself dinners out and/ or gelato, the lunch and coffee doesn’t seem like much of a compromise.

    can’t wait to explore brooklyn with you!!

  • Anonymous

    i had to unsubscribe from Jcrew and Banana emails – they were sending me messages every morning re: 40% off. it was torture!

  • Anonymous

    i’ve been paying in cash this week and i noticed that it’s A LOT harder to part with then just swiping my debit card 🙂

  • Anonymous

    thanks for the mani/pedi recommendation! after a tough race, it’s one of my favorite splurges.

  • Anonymous

    just looked this place up on yelp! yum.

  • Anonymous

    i love scout mob so much! i want them to hire me…

  • Anonymous

    yeah, but you get to live with Thea! that alone is priceless. seriously, i’m jealous. let’s hope my mom hasn’t figured out how to read blog comments…

  • dude. ME TOO!

  • I LOVE DEALS! I feature them daily in my blog :). Since January, I have honestly had too many fitness deals… they overwhelm me sometimes & I want to buy them all! So I definitely use those sites for fitness. Much less for other stuff though, as I don’t like to feel obligated to try a certain restaurant just b/c I bought a coupon there. I do like the GrouponNow (they gave me $25 free) and Living Social has the same with “Instant deals.” And this is no secret, but when my dear grocery down the way has items on sale (Stonyfield yogurt, Gatorade) I have no shame in buying the max quantity they will let me each time I visit. I can’t always fight the Trader Joe’s lines!

  • Corey @ runner’s cookie

    Moving to a new place can be so exciting, especially when it’s going to be a better situation for you. Sounds like you’ve found some great ways to save money while still having a fun lifestyle. I love groupon and finding random coupons and other ways to save money. I don’t do anything too drastic to save money – I make my own breakfast and lunch everyday, I keep track of all my spending, and I think really hard about something that isn’t a “necessity” before I buy it (usually wait a couple of weeks, if I still really decide I want it, I go from there.) I know there’s always room for improvement, but I also try to cut myself a little slack – I don’t want to be feeling guilty all the time for doing things that make me happy.
    Good luck with the move, Megan!

  • Also, if you haven’t already, try dealburner – they give you the option to link your foursquare account to stuff like groupon + lifebooker and then they will text message you if there is a deal once you check in to venue!!

  • Great point – my husband and I pay our bills on our US Airways card and pay it off monthly – we get tons of miles doing this. 

  • SO funny, I just looked up Matyson earlier this week cause it was also recommended to me. Megan, let me know what you’re in the mood for post-race and of course I’ll let you know where we’ll be celebrating! Psyched you registered for the philly 1/2 in Nov – although I’m sure you’ll meet your goal next month! woohoo!

  • As bummed as I am that you’ll be leaving the upper (upper) west side, I am so excited about your impending move– sounds like you are feeling confident and excited about this one for sure. Just promise you’ll come run in CP from time to time.

    I am also a ridiculous cheapskate and always look for ways to save some $. I recommend things like checking in on Foursquare (got free side item at Mermaid Inn on Sunday!), Living Social ($25 for 2 full mani/pedis!), etc. I haven’t really used Groupon Now but definitely want to check it out. Also, following brands on Twitter sometimes results in deals– I won 2 free pairs of Nike shorts for just re-tweeting @NikeWomens. Very cool!

    See you tomorrow for 6.5 milez of funnnnn, following by free wine and booze. Look at us saving $$..

  • Moving is SO flipping expensive. Colin and I are looking at moving in together in the fall and the move in costs are INSANE. We’ve actually been saving a lot of money by drinking at home more! Having friends over for a round or two before we go out is WAY cheaper than having all of our drinks at a bar!

  • I hope you’ll still be around for some morning runs after your move to Brooklyn…or you can introduce us to new routes.  🙂

    I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about the cost of living in NYC, and I mentioned that I actually save a fair amount of money every month…..which I realized is because I usually work three nights per week and don’t go out a ton.  All that alcohol money really adds up!

    Also, running is part of my social life, so that cuts down on money spent as well…

  • long time reader, first-time comment 🙂

    if you’re moving to south brooklyn, definitely join the park slope food co-op, where you’ll save a lot of money on awesome cheap local organic produce and only have to work around 4 hours/month (i thought it was fun!) i was a member when i lived in cobble hill and would run there for work shifts and then run back!

    now that i’m in north brooklyn it sadly doesnt make sense for me to be a member anymore!

  • Good luck with the move!! I find moving super exciting, but I do hate how much it costs. 

    I love your last suggestion – running dates with friends are my favorite form of (free) socialization! When I’m trying to save money I also limit the number of races I sign up for and try to eat at home as much as possible. I walk more to save money on gas, and I find things to do outside that are free instead of going out to eat or meeting friends for a drink. The problem is…even though I cut back on what I spend for myself, I have a hard time not spending money on my dog (new toys, treats, etc). It’s ridiculous & unneeded…and sort of defeats the point.

  • Good luck! Moving is awesome and horrible. At least you’re not moving into this place: http://www.dlisted.com/2011/08/09/open-post-hosted-78-square-foot-apartment?page=3