Wednesday, April 1

My walk was worth 10 cents -- and other depressing numbers

Okay, recycling pays next to nothing for cans these days. But I have to have SOMETHING to get myself out the door. So I took a plastic bag, some music and walked around.

There were a pretty surprising number of cans, given how clean I tend to think this city is. Of course, four or five of the cans were in trash cans in the cemetary nearby. Even so, I found a good 7 or 8 cans within a 3 block radius.

Anyway, after 25 minutes of wandering, I came away with... 10 ounces of aluminum. Assuming prices are still at 20 cents/lb, I earned a bit more than 10 cents. But, hey, it's a start. And at least there are fewer cans on the ground (or in trash bins).

I want to try to start checking the recycling bin outside our apartment. Lots of people toss cans in there. I can't imagine anyone caring about my rifling through there.

Okay, it's far from "big money." But here's hoping it gets me out on my walks. And hey, an extra buck or two is still an extra buck or two, right?

I'm a tad disheartened overall, as I run up my first real attempt at our budget. I'll have to tweak the numbers after this first month ends, but when all is said and done we have a whopping $310 left to throw at debt. Terribly depressing. And still not taking Tim's Body Shop products into account, because right now, we're pretty stocked up.

That said, at least we're staying out of the red. I'm simply finding it hard to write down realistic numbers for some of these items. Groceries, for example. I feel like we should spend $200 or less. But my guess is $250 is far closer to the mark. As I get better at budgeting and more aware of our grocery spending, that may change. But for now, it's staying.

More importantly, given how lean our budget is, I feel awful about having $35 a week for delivery/meals out. The frugal side of me sneers at this. But the more realistic side says we may even go over that. We're worn down. It's getting harder to get basic things done. I want to eat more healthily, but I spend most of my nights trying not to constantly shove food in my mouth.

Even if we weren't so threadbare, the simple fact is that neither of us is particularly well, physically. We both sort of shudder when asked what we want to do about dinner. We have no idea. We're tired of worrying about food, sick of cooking it, and probably both turning into pizzas, we've been eating so much of it as a default.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is: All in all, part of me knows that we're doing really well. That we're able to keep outside food down to about once a week, well it's probably a feat. But it doesn't feel like one.

I'm trying to stay sane by celebrating the little victories. Which is definitely helping. And I'm grateful that Tim was able to get an appointment with a new doctor on the 9th. That's definitely a blessing. I just feel like we're running in place, yet we're still starting to run out of road. If that makes any sense.

What about you guys? As these winter months are stretching in spring ones -- it seems the entire country is experiencing an extended winter -- how are you coping with the nasty weather, financial stress and general malaise?

And on an entirely separate note:

I've been thinking for awhile about trying to start up a Q&A feature. You guys ask questions, I answer. But I wasn't really sure if it was best to let it start organically, or if I should just throw the idea out there.

So I'm taking Jackie B's advice and just throwing it out there. If you have any questions you want answers to, preferably tied somehow to finance, I would be happy to do my best to answer them and then open it up to other readers to voice their opinions.

Like most people, I'm much better at solving other people's problems than my own, so I'd be excited to try and help however I can. Consider it your way of distracting me until spring finally decides to show up.


Blogger Shevy said...

Don't you guys have deposits and refunds on pop cans and bottles? Or were you talking about empty cans that held food (like soup or spaghetti sauce or something)?

I don't know what they're paying currently in BC for scrap metal, just that there's been a huge problem with people stealing copper and bronze in every form you can think of because they get so much for it. (They cut phone wires, take the wiring from playing field lights, break into houses under renovation to steal copper plumbing, steal bronze plaques from public monuments and cemeteries, etc.)

As for pop cans and bottles, we get 5 cents for anything 1 litre or under, 30 cents for bigger ones.

As for how I'm doing, not so well actually. I'm still sick, behind on my cleaning, exhausted and having the odd panic attack. Money is the pits right now and the weather is worse. If I wanted snow in April I'd be living in Minnesota or someplace like that, not in Vancouver!

April 2, 2009 at 1:51 AM

Blogger Vinelady said...

Have you considered doing a cooking night once a month and then freezing meals. Maybe get together with some friends or family and make it a joint effort. Knowing that if you are too run down you can always pull out a meal is a great relief (or it was for me when I was doing badly). The other side benefits are you would be saving money and getting to spend time with people that love ya.

April 2, 2009 at 10:21 AM

Blogger Abby said...


Sorry to hear about your troubles. It's so hard to get better when you're stressed out and depressed simultaneously!

The deposit rule is in OR, not WA, which means we pay less for cans upfront, but we also don't get a set rate per can. Right now, rates are around 20-25 cents a pound, I believe. Still, if it keeps me taking walks, it'll be worthwhile.

As for snow, yeah, we didn't have any here in Seattle recently, but there was some in mid-March which was pretty strange. Made me wonder if I'd gotten far enough away from Anchorage after all.

Finally, you probably already know this, but when I'm sick and stressed and upset and still have cleaning, I try to just set a small goal. Like: Ok, today I just have to do the dishes. It's still not easy but it's better to focus on one small area -- or set the timer for 15 minutes and see what you can ge done -- than to simply take it as a whole and then collapse, miserable and overwhelmed, on the couch.


I've definitely been talking to Tim about doing some "multi-cooking" nights. Where, if we're going to make one thing, we should just make several.

The one problem with asking friends and family over is different foods. I don't eat red meat, one friend is a vegetarian, and another eats it all. Still, I'll float the idea by them and see what they think about doing an exchange. I'm willing to try vegetarian food so long as any tofu chunks in there aren't too big. I can't chew that stuff -- uck!

I'll be sure to let you all know if I end up trying that method.

April 2, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Blogger Revanche said...

Maybe before you actually start the family style meals, you can all contribute some recipes and pick a few that a majority will enjoy. And do two or three majority vote dishes to cover everyone so that you come out with plenty of leftovers for all to take home?

[Obviously the friend who eats it all is just going to have to take smaller portions or pick just one or two items ;) ]

Or you could even swap ... chores? Maybe they take a cooking day for you, you take an organizing day for them another time? Something that plays to everyone's strengths and current capabilities, maybe. I've always liked the idea of creating that kind of a chore community, personally.

April 2, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Blogger Mrs. Modern Tightwad said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who's been having bad days recently. Yesterday I woke up feeling, physically the best I've felt in weeks, so I had to be depressed. I found out they're not offering the professional classes I need to take this semester due to budget cuts, and even with the progress we're making, we're at least two years away from paying off our credit card debt let alone anything else. I think I'm at a point where I know what steps I'm taking, and I need to go on auto-pilot and enjoy the small rewards, instead of worrying that things aren't better. Cause then I start to worry that things won't get better. Oh well, today's better than yesterday, and that's good enough.

April 2, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Blogger Revanche said...

Just taking it one day at a time. Or an hour at a time. Even as we approach spring, my body is increasingly betraying me, though it's usually the winter that's the worst.

At a time when I should be expending energy on job hunting and working, it's taking every last bit to get through the day so I can go home and sleep. And blog, that helps. But only mentally. Not so much physically.

Also, sort of accepting my level of craziness. It's beyond absentmindedness, now. And *shrug* there's nothing much I can do about it right this moment.

April 2, 2009 at 8:58 PM

Blogger Shevy said...

Responding now to a different aspect of your post, you said you were unhappy that you're spending $35 per week on fast food, especially pizza.

What about buying $35 worth of frozen pizza and sticking it in the freezer? I assume it would work out to more food (maybe one extra meal for the same price?) and you don't have to tip the delivery guy!

It doesn't take much to turn on the oven and shove the pizza in and it's ready faster than they could deliver it to you.

I don't see any point in spending that money on raw foods that you then have to prep and cook. You already know that's not your style and that you tend to default to pizza or other fast food. So, work with that. When you're tired or sick or overwhelmed is not the time to try to stretch and become a serious cook.

April 2, 2009 at 11:53 PM

Blogger Abby said...


I find it helps to try and stop thinking of it as you against your body. Hard to do. But it helps to remember this thing you call "your body" is actually "you." The whole Cartesian Dualism thing is one of the bigger problems in modern society, if I do say so myself. We've become alien to our own bodies. Not good and not helpful. Still, it's hard not to feel like it's the mind vs the body when the latter is slow, sluggish or otherwise frustrating.


We have definitely been stacking up on frozen pizzas as they go on sale. I think next time, we'll do more than 4, but eventually it does become an issue of space. My mom has recently made some room in her freezer, though, so it's a thought.

Still, I like the approach. Perhaps we can find some "special" frozen foods -- Tim loves TGIFridays but we don't have them in Seattle. So perhaps we'll get a couple of those meals...

April 3, 2009 at 1:20 AM


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