i The Frugal Law Student | 2007 | September

Law School
Personal Finance

Save over $1440 A Year By Brown Bagging It

Written by Brett McKay

Lots of law students at my school go out to eat for lunch everyday. They’ll often head over to the student center to pick up a slice of pizza and drink or sandwich. I’ll admit, the stuff at the union is pretty yummy, but it will set you back about $8 each time you go. If you go out every  weekday, that’s about $40 bucks a week. There are roughly 36 weeks in a school year, so $40 times 36 is $1440 a year.This figure isn’t even taking into account going out to eat on the weekends.

Quick tips on how to brown bag it

  • Leftovers.  This is probably the quickest and most delicious way to brown bag it at school. Make a huge dinner for yourself on Sunday night, and bring the leftovers for lunch for the next few days. You’ll get something substantial and yummy for pennies on the dollar.
  • Prepare lunches a week in advance.My lunch lately consists of a chicken breast, mixed vegetables, and lintels. Yesterday, I spent about 30 minutes cooking the lentils and nuking a bag of mixed vegetables. I’ll probably cook some chicken today. Now all I have to do is just dump everything in a container in the morning, and I’m good to go.
  • Get a lunch cooler.If you don’t have access to a fridge, make sure you have an insulated lunch cooler bag. I use an insulated lunch box cooler with an ice pack that we had laying around the house. It does a great job keeping my food nice and cool.
  • Eat outside.Right now the weather is pretty nice in Oklahoma. I’ve been taking my lunch outside so I can get out of the library. It feels good to be outside and after 30 minutes, you’ll feel rejuvenated.
  • Be productive. Another benefit of bringing your own lunch is that you save time. Instead of having to drive over to a restaurant, standing in line to order, leisurely eating your food, and then driving back to school, I just go to my locker, grab my lunch, and eat all in about 30 minutes. I probably save about an hour a day doing this. I can use that time to outline and work on my law review article.

What to do with the savings

So you save $1400 a year. What are you supposed to do with the savings? If you sock it away in an index fund for the next 10 years, you’ll have over $24,000.  You could also put that money in a high yield bank account and use it for books the following year.

Don’t forget to enter into my Chambermaid giveaway! Contest ends September 13!

links for 2007-09-11

Written by Brett McKay

How Being Frugal Helps The Environment

Written by Brett McKay

One of the ways frugality helps save money is by reducing unneeded waste. For example, instead of throwing last night’s dinner down the garbage disposal, you pack it up and take it to work the next day. Or instead of driving your own car to work, you save money on gas by carpooling with somebody.

It’s not surprising, then, that many frugal practices run parallel with eco-friendly practices. Part of environmentalism is learning how to reduce waste – be it wasted gas, wasted electricity, or wasted garbage. We’ve all heard the three R’s of environmentalism: reduce, reuse, recycle. All of these practices focus on eliminating waste and being efficient with the resources we have.

The same goes with frugality. Frugality is all about being efficient with our money so we get the most from our dollar. A while back ago, I made a list of 180 things you can do to save money. Looking back at the list, most of the things I listed not only save you money, but also helps the environment. Why? Because they focus on eliminating waste.

Here’s a quick list of different things you can do to eliminate waste, save you money, and help the environment:

  • Keep your tires inflated at the correct pressure. You use less gas when your tires are inflated correctly. Thus, you save money and reduce the amount of petroleum you use.
  • Use the bus to get to school or work. No brainer. Save money on gas and reduce the amount of carbon being spewed into the air by having one less car on the road.
  • Buy clothes at a thrift store.
  • Avoid buying clothes that require drying cleaning. Dry cleaning is expensive. Plus, it uses chemicals that could possibly harm the environment.
  • Buy in bulk. You reduce the amount of packaging you have to throw away.
  • Grown your own vegetables.
  • Buy furniture at a consignment store.
  • Don’t throw away “dead” batteries. Remove them from your radio and use them in quartz clocks. These clocks take such a small amount of power that batteries too weak to run anything else may have enough power to run a clock for a while.

I could go on, but I’ll just let you check out my 180 money saving tips for more ideas. What are you doing that is not only frugal, but also helps the environment? Drop a line in the comment box and add to the conversation.

Don’t forget to enter into my Chambermaid giveaway! Contest ends September 13!

links for 2007-09-10

Written by Brett McKay

How Much Cash Do You Carry Around?

Written by Brett McKay

I like to use cash for most of my expenses. Unlike using a debit card where your money is converted into a bunch of 00110011’s, using cash is tangible. When I spend money with cash, I guess you could say I feel it more when money leaves my pocket. But how much cash should I carry around?

I read some guy wanted to be rich, so in order to get himself used to being rich, he started carrying around big wads of cash with him because that’s what rich people do, I guess. I don’t think that’s such a great idea for two reasons. One, you might be really tempted to spend that money and two, what if you lose it or get it stolen. I remember when I was in Mexico, I had a ton of money on me and got mugged. Thankfully, I was able to talk the guy out of finishing the job. The idea of losing all that money still freaks me out. (By the way, my mugger and I became friends after our initial meeting.)

My philosophy is to only carry around enough cash for what what I need during that day. For example, if I know I’m going to the grocery store, I’ll bring enough money to get the groceries. If I know I’m not going to spend any money that day, I simply won’t carry any cash with me. By using this philosophy, I reduce the temptation to spend money and I don’t have to worry about losing it.

What’s your philosophy on carrying cash?

Don’t forget to enter into my Chambermaid giveaway! Contest ends September 13!

links for 2007-09-09

Written by Brett McKay