A Penny Saved

As we approach St. Nick’s Day, I fondly think of my baby brother.

Years ago on the night of December 5th, we had just finished explaining St. Nick would deliver coins and candies in any shoes left outside his door overnight. After hearing this, he proceeded to sneak around the house collecting as many shoes as he could find. He managed to swipe several pairs from each of our closets. He then set them all out, pair by pair, in front of his door.

My mom, being a good sport, put pennies and candies in each and every shoe. He was *beyond* excited when he woke up the next morning, delightfully adding and re-adding all of his coins throughout the day. He was convinced he had outsmarted St. Nick and the rest of us.

Cue in 2011. At 31, I’m not a kid anymore. I’m living on my own with my small  petting zoo and a passion for traveling and marathons. Money, or a lack thereof,  as always been something on my mind. I’d like to do Ironman 2013. I’d like to have more spending money. I’d like to have a bigger savings account and a separate “In Case of Emergency” account. To do all of this, I need to pay off my credit card debt. With December 6th approaching, it would be great if I could just set a few pairs of shoes outside my door and collect some extra money. But, the world doesn’t work that way.

Instead, I put the word out to friends who needed cat sitters, dog sitters, house sitters, and baby sitters that I was for hire. I cancelled my online dating site subscription. I then re-evaluated my budget to figure out where to make cuts. A quick call to DirectTV revealed my contract was up soon and I could officially cancel cable as of December 6th. I had to make a decision.

Minor panic set in. Could I actually go *without* television?

After an hour of deliberation, I decided yes – in my own home, at least. I can take the $77 per month spent on DirectTV and put it into debt. I won’t buy the equipment needed to watch free local channels. Anytime I need  want to watch television, there are some perfectly good sets attached to equipment at the gym. Castle on Monday nights? It’s the same show playing on a treadmill as it is from my basement. Grey’s Anatomy? The plot doesn’t change when watching on a stationary bike. And Pan Am and Revenge will come in just fine from an elliptical machine.

Then I remembered work will reimburse us $50 (taxed) if we go to a gym at least 12 times per month. Add that to the $77 additional debt payment and we’re on a roll. Oh and hey – not going on those blind dates will cut down on purchasing new clothes and money spent on drinks and appetizers. And wait a minute…I can brown bag my lunch to work every day and cut down on my Subway spending.

I’m 100% committing all of these financial changes starting on St. Nick’s Day: December 6th. Just as St. Nick is fiction, so is the idea that I can’t make cuts to my expenses. And while my mother may not be sneaking extra pennies into my shoes at night, looks like I found a way to outsmart my own budget.