I sometimes have an odd schedule where I go into the office in the morning, but because of where a meeting is and the time, it is just silly to backtrack to the office when it is over. The back tracking wastes both work time travel, and my time driving in rush hour. When this happens, like yesterday where a meeting ended in downtown St Paul at 3:00, but my office is 20-30 minutes north (because of the start of rush hour), and I am now within 30 minutes of home, I'll head home to finish my work day. I also needed to pick up DD#2 at school yesterday, on the opposite side of town from home, but I have one route home that takes me right by her school.
What I really wanted to do was plant my butt firmly in a Caribou Coffee for 90 minutes and work until picking her up at 5:00. I was strong with my will power today, keeping my money in my purse. I would have loved a smoothie or a blended tea, but I don't need to spend $5.00. A small coffee would have only set me back under $2.00, but it is a warm day and I dressed for the cool morning temps and now was dressed too hot to enjoy a coffee. Instead, I went the extra block and used the public library for my remote office. I was pretty thirsty since my car had heated up while in the meeting, but I helped myself to the free drinking fountain before I plugged and logged in. I do not drink nearly enough water in warm weather, so this was a health bonus.
Here's my rough calculations. This variation on my schedule, not counting telecommuting days, is probably three times a month. If only 1/3 of the time, I'm also making a detour stop to shuttle the kid, it's still 12 times a year I have the opportunity to make a choice to save a little money, or at least, not spend more money. Twelve times X $3.00 (average between cheap small coffee and blended drink), and I have $36.00 left in my wallet. Round trip savings on going home, then picking up my kid, 10 miles at current federal mileage rate of $ .55, at 12 times, and I've saved $66 in car wear and tear. Of course I won't have anyone handing me a check at the end of the year for $36 or $66, and might not even notice the savings, but the important point is that it is there. Finding the little ways to shave dollars off monthly expenditures, cumulatively adds up until there is actually more wallet than month come April 30, July 31, or any end of month.
There was a time when I had to think about things down to the penny, and I read a couple blogs where the writer is living on this tight edge all the time. I'm not going to get my calculator out for every transaction, but doing the math a time or two puts some perspective in all the holes in my checkbook. I won't give up my coffee habit completely. A cheap small coffee is a low price for a second office when the telecommuting days get to be a drag or makes for a better meeting environment than an enclosed meeting room at my office. But am I combining errands instead of haplessly jumping in the car to take care of a singleton situation? Am I taking advantage of free resources, resources I've paid through taxes to support like the library for free Internet, without the need to buy a coffee house beverage when I have time to kill? Where are there other places to plug those holes, without even thinking of them as frugal strategies, but just common behavior?
|Love a good cup of Joe, but not at 3:30 in the afternoon.|