At this moment–Tuesday night when I’m writing this, or Wednesday morning when it’s published, doesn’t matter–the weather in the DC metro area is abhorrent. It’s cold, slushy, slippery, gray, and miserable.

If I’m lucky, and I never am, Wednesday will be an exceedingly frugal day because when I wake up and check the Metro’s website and the federal government, and these institutions will tell me to stay home. I will not change out of my pajamas all day–in fact, I’ll barely get out of bed. I will sleep like a fairy tale princess.

But, okay, let’s assume that won’t happen.

It’s much more likely that when I wake up and haul the computer into bed it will tell me to go to work. (Lame.) The first moments of my morning will not be frugal, because they will involve my clothes. I will dig through the overflowing drawer of underwear (that’s what I buy during sessions of retail therapy) and get dressed. I have plenty of clothing, way too much of it purchased by my mom. It’s a little embarrassing–but the rest of the morning is better, at least from a personal finance perspective.

Breakfast is probably oatmeal: quick oats with cinnamon from the shaker and brown sugar from the bag instead of the prepackaged stuff. This choice is more frugal and ecologically responsible, but really I do it because I can put in about three times the cinnamon Quaker does when they flavor it themselves.

My lunch is in the freezer–unfortunately, it’s the last one I have for this week, which means Thursday and Friday is either PB&J or lunch out. Neither sounds very good right now, but right now I’m still fantasizing I won’t need to eat a work lunch tomorrow.

After I put lunch in my purse I will make my financially, socially and ecologically responsible coup of the day: I will trudge to the Metro. (It’s not always a trudge, nor does it always feel like pulling off a coup–but remember what I said about the weather?) The Metro is its own story, a post for another day. For now let’s just say that while the DC Metro is one of the most expensive train systems in the country, the feeling of saving money, fuel and time (it’s not faster, but it’s usable time, unlike that spent behind the wheel) is pretty wonderful. Read a library book on the train and it gets even better.


While I’m at work, I will not be spending money because I will be working. (AJ, who is taking the week off, will probably chat to tell me that he’s been sleeping like a fairy tale princess all morning, and I will pretend to pass out at my desk. Except then I can just talk to my friends who are still in school about their homework–remember homework?–and feel better.)

Wednesday night, one of my favorite authors is reading at American University, for free, and my plan is to go to that. If I do that, I’ll have dinner in the city–probably at the empanada place for $3-6. If the weather is too gross to stay out, I’ll come home, eat in, and go to the gym like a sensible person.

So at an outside estimate, I’m going to drop a hot six dollars tomorrow, and that’s for a night out. I won’t feel at any point deprived, or particularly “frugal” unless I decide to ponder my moral rectitude on the train.

For me, one of the best ways to keep control of my finances is to avoid leaking money during ordinary days. I don’t drive around, buy breakfasts and lunches, or hang out in stores or coffee shops that will induce me to spend. I’ve cultivated affection for things like free readings and hole-in-the-wall empanada places, and organized my life around public transit.


So what about you? What is the stuff that you do right in each ordinary day, or ways you think you could get better?