Sunday, August 31, 2008

Money money money

The spending blog has been excellent for me. It really helped me keep my expenses down this past month. My primary credit card bill came in at less than $400 (and that includes virtually all groceries, house stuff and gasoline for the month), as well as some leisure expenses like comic books.

I intend to keep it going for at least two more months. I figure that a quarter of monitoring will influence my behaviors enough that they'll become habits.

Final expenses for the month: $9 chinese take out and $16.64 at TJ's for OJ, Mango juice, bbq chicken pinwheels and carrot cakes.


This is one of the great movie scenes ever.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm sooo getting old

I bought coffee again today. It's been a brutal week and I woke up knowing I would need coffee to get through the day. $4. I'm exhausted and debating whether to pick up Chinese on the way home from work. The debate doesn't feel very fierce right now, but the the craving does.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gray or bald?

After learning today from the woman who cuts my hair that gray is coarser and often thicker, I'd rather be gray-haired. I can always dye that. Instead I continue to pay for haircuts that will soon be unnecessary. Today was a $40 spot. But I'll gladly pay that every time knowing I'lll be happy when it's done and that I'll have that half hour of interesting conversation. I still miss you Deniece of Shapes and Colours on Wolf Road in Colonie.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am about to go overbudget

I've spent $11 in the last two days. $7 on an iced-blended and a muffin to push through the second of back-to-back 12-hour-days Wednesday. And then another $4 today on sliced Muenster cheese from TJ's. That was strictly a grocery expense since I have sliced turkey at home but I don't eat sandwiches without cheese.

But Friday I get a haircut (which is desperately needed) which puts we way above the $6 I have left in my wallet.

Oh well, I can live with that.


I won't stop pimping this song or band ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The glass is 40 percent full of Radiohead

A few months ago I celebrated my 100th concert. HOORAY FOR ME. HOORAY FOR MUSIC. I've seen shows in Orchard Park, Lewiston, Syracuse, Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Tucson, Phoenix, Finger Lakes, Pembroke, Los Angeles, Irvine, West Hollywood and even Pomona.

With this kind of experience, when I saw that Radiohead was playing the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday and that the show "started" at 7 p.m. according to the ticket, I figured 7:30 p.m. dinner plans would get me to my seat right about 9 p.m., when the band would be taking the stage.

Amy and I used the following logic in planning our concert excursion. Noise ordinance kicks in at 11 p.m., so working backward ... a band with an extensive back catalog, which Radiohead is, usually plays about two hours per show. So if we aim for a 9 p.m. arrival, we should probably be getting to Hollywood to park around 8:30 p.m. thus leaving plenty of time to walk from the surrounding neighborhood up the hill to the Hollywood Bowl. That means a quickie, cheap dinner starting at 7:30 p.m. should be fine, eh?

We meet up at 7:30 and our arranged restaurant but improvise sushi just down the street. Ultimately, this decision costs us about 20 minutes—rather than finishing at 8:15 we finish closer to 8:35. We end up getting parked in Hollywood around 8:50 instead. But we're both good walkers so we know that we'll make up most of the time and if we miss a song or two the world won't end. (We've each seen them before).

As we approach the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl we can hear Radiohead. "Shit, we missed the beginning," I say. It's about 9:15 when we get to the entrance. NO ONE else is "fashionably late." But then again, this is RADIOHEAD. Their fans are devoted.

We proceed up the hill and I notice that we're the only ones heading in. Like I said, devoted. The ticket guy scans our tickets but the security people let Amy through without a bag check. WTF? Is this Dick Cheney's America or what? As we're walking I notice that a large pack of Bowl employees are eating and the black and white clad ushers are heading away from the seating area. RADIOHEAD FANS ARE DEVOTED.

"I could really use a drink of water," Amy says.

"Yeah, but let's get to the entrance to our section first," I reply.

"Right on."

We had good seats so we get there a minute later. I go in and Radiohead is in the midst of Climbing Up the Walls. While waiting for Amy they start Bodysnatchers, my favorite song from In Rainbows. It's AMAZING with it's crooked rhythmic aggression. And they sound incredible. I am geeking out huge. Amy comes back and we head toward our seats. We get to our aisle and decide to wait until the band finishes the song before we head to our row, so as not to be too disruptive as the fashionably late arrivals.

When we get to our row, it's jammed like sardines. As we squeeze by the other fans I apologize for being the late ones. Our spots are actually occupied, but the people standing there are cool as we show them our tix and push down and Amy and I nestle in. Now that we've arrived they start playing How to Disappear Completely. More superbness. Then the band walks off stage to cries that can only be interpreted as thank-you-so-muc-you-changed-my-life-type passion.

I don't know how I felt in that moment. Amy would tell me later that I got pale for an instant. I look at her and she has a weird smile (doesn't reach her cheeks really) and a distant look in her eyes. Then she and I simultaneously chuckle at the absurdity of our situation.


"Um ... huh?"

"Is that ...?" neither of us quite able to voice our fear.

I look at my watch. It's 9:35 p.m. She looks at her cell phone to check the time. Same thing.

I can tell I've got a weird smile on my face as I stare at a Radioheadless stage. I feel Amy's hand on my shoulder. I look to my left.

"Dude, the encore is next. We missed the show," she says, probably as much to comfort herself as me.

"I know. I can't believe it, though. Look at the time," I say oddly feeling only a slight disappointment. I think the stun effect is still overwhelming me.

"I know," she replies equally stunned.

Both concert vets, we pause to reconstruct our plans for the night and we can't find any flaws.

I quickly entertain thoughts of buying tickets to the next night's show on Craigslist. But since I'm in austerity-Mike mode I bury those thoughts. "Maybe, the noise ordinance kicks in at 10 p.m.? I wish I had triple checked."

The band returns to the stage. I have one thought in my head. I want a five-song encore. That would mean I'd get to hear about eight songs. At $80 a ticket that's $10 a song. If my per song value gets higher than that, I'm gonna lose it?

Well, thankfully they proceed to play an amazing five-song encore: Videotape / Paranoid Android / Dollars & Cents / Street Spirit (Fade Out) / Reckoner. WOWZ. It's like a transcendent musical experience. I almost cried during Videotape and the crowd energy during Paranoid Android energy was like organic.

The band leaves the stage again. It's 10:08 p.m. If the noise ordinance cut off was 10 p.m. the show would have ended then, because the fine would kick in immediately at 10:01. Now we don't know what's going on.

Amy and I are impressed enough that any lingering disappointment has been quashed, thanks in part to tons of shock still runnning through us. The fans are going even more nuts. And on one is packing up anything. No one is dashing to beat the crowd, which is almost as common as dope smoking at Bowl concerts. As we look to the stage, Amy and I both note that the stage isn't being broken down, instead the piano is being moved and guitars are being replaced and tuned.

They come out again!!! We consider the possiblity that maybe they're taking breaks every five or six songs. Again, neither of us can ourselves to ask anyone. At this point Amy is crossing her fingers for "House of Cards" from In Rainbows. I wonder whether they've already played everything from the latest album.

In a sign of good karma, they open this set with House of Cards. Then they perform Lucky and Everything in Its Right Place. Then it's over at about 10:30, so we got about an hour of show. We're both disappointed, obviously, but also quite zenfully at peace with it. As we're leaving the venue, we remark that we were each glad that we shared this experience with the other. With almost anyone else, we would have probably gotten pissed through a mutual sharing of frustration thing. But we each were so struck by the absurdity of seeing our very sensical, logical plan disastorously crash that we coasted through it.

In the end we got about 10.5-11 songs, so better than $10 per song.

When I checked the Web Monday I learned that they had in fact played like 26 songs. And I later found out that they took the stage at 8 p.m. By Grapthar's Hammer that's quite a value.

In the end, it was still an amazing show. But I suspect that had I been there for the whole thing, it would have been transcendent. *sigh*

Here's a highlight

Monday, August 25, 2008

The month is almost over

I withdrew $80 Sunday. My plan is to make that last for the rest of the month. Some of the below expenses were charged, like groceries and gas.

Sunday 8.24:
Dry-cleaning: $8.90
Soap: $4.32 for a six-pack of Lever 2000 with Aloe (I like it)
Groceries: $16.86 at Albertson's (this included sliced turkey, crab meat, two veggie cake things, four veggie burgers); worth noting is that I saved more than $9 using my clubcard.
Gas: $34.88
Dinner: $20 for sushi (that's pretty damned good)
Milk: $4.49

Monday 8.25:
Lunch at Tito's: $6.45
Dinner at Ali Baba's: $20
Albertson's grocery run: $12.18 (more crab for a seafood salad I'm gonna make, plus dressing and mushrooms for said salad)
TJ's grocery run: $12.11 (chili, pasta, peppers, tomatoes, bananas, onions -- mostly stuff for seafood salad)

I'm down to just $17 in my wallet to last me through the coming weekend. Very doable.


Youtube memory lane of the day ...

Ironically, though I love them now and have seen them twice at rather exorbitant prices, I didn't really dig them when they came out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hooray for coffee sometimes

$4 on a caramel ice blended at Coffee Bean. With two students coming in—one before the meeting and one after—I knew I'd need fuel to run that double marathon. And it's 6:40 and I can't even estimate my departure time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some spending is totally worth it

$16.60 at Le Maison du Pain on Pico Blvd for some breakfast treats for the office = Priceless.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Knee jerk defensiveness

OK, a non-how-much-did-Mike-spend-today post. I don't read many blogs regularly, mainly just friends' blogs and some newspaper blogs (The Homicide Report at the is one that I try to hit with some frequency, but don't sometimes because it is depressing).

But the one I read most regulalry is Molly Knight's blog. I discovered her blog while looking for RK bootlegs and fell in love with it when she embedded YouTube footage of my old college marching band's recent Radiohead show, which she adored. She's more importantly a professional writer, so her blog is GOOD. She frequently blogs about music, particularly Tori Amos, and her insights and ideas are often in sync with my own and always well-considered or at least really fun to read.

However, there are times when of course I am in disagreement with her, like from a very recent post:

Booooo. The Hold Steady apparently hates Radiohead as well (but not Oasis!). Shouldn’t we be saving this blog-hate for someone who deserves it, like Sufjan?

Why the hate on Sufjan? Why does he deserve it? Chicago from Come On Feel The Illinoise is one of my favorite songs from the past six years. And his concert at the Wiltern a couple years ago is in my top 20 concerts ever.

Then again, why did this bother me at all? I don't know Molly Knight. And if I did, so what? I disagree with Amy, Rich, Monika and Dave not often, but on at least a few bands every year.

Hmmmmmm ... I have to think on this.

P.S. I still have mad Olympic fever. I love anyone playing beach volleyball, Usain Bolt, Jonathan Horton's brass on High-Bar, the non-splash of the Chinese women's divers, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant cheering on other athletes, the American women's eights in rowing ... good times.

Another day another $13

I spent $11.66 at Trader Joe's picking up four masala veggie burgers, naan (to use as buns for the burgers), whipped cream cheese (for Robyn, which I was reimbursed for) and chicken sausage polenta lasagna. That was lunch for today and a bunch of future meals. The total isn't really a thang, since I did far less grocery shopping this week.

I also spent $1helping a homeless man with bus fare.

But I have zero spending that will happen tomorrow. ZERO!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Food reminisce

I spent $1 on Gummi bears today.

Confession: I also used to watch the Gummi Bears cartoon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hooray for the 716

Fredonia's Jenn Stuczynski wins the silver medal in the pole vault. Hooray!! Too bad her coach "came off as kind of a dick" [scratch that and insert "was the only one miked"] during his interview on NBC. Tonally he could have sounded more encouraging to Jenn, who has just four years of pole vaulting experience. She came in second to the best pole vaulter EVER.

ADDENDUM: Editing and context!!! Jenn Stuczynski said that she was in a funk immediately following the "controversy" but not because of her coach, but how the public and many members of the media reacted to her coach. She told and the Buffalo News' Jerry Sullivan that she asked her coach what she did wrong (which because she wasn't miked, no one heard) and NBC caught only his ticking off the things on his list. She said in each report that she wanted the straight dope from her coach and that that's what she pays him for, not to be a cheerleader to an adult, who needs constructive criticism, not myopia. Sullivan and reported that she added that she appreciated the fans' support but wishes that it hadn't manifested as attacks on her coach.

California Day

Six years ago today I arrived in California after a 4,000-mile, two-week journey across the United States. Quitting the Times Union and moving to California is one of the two best decisions I've made in my life (along with joining college marching band). I say this not because I get to rollerblade along the Pacific Ocean every Xmas (though that is awesome), but because of the amazing job I found at L.A. Youth and the even more amazing people who have come into my life. So thanks to all the writers, co-workers, teachers and everyone. Y'alls rescued me from my alcohol-abetted despair.


Today's spend ...

at Target for multi-vitamins (I don't eat enough veggies, period), shoelaces and a big pack of toilet paper.

$8 for a great burrito and rice at Gallego's Mexican Deli.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I have a cut under my right thumbnail and it hurts like all hell. It's swollen, though not discolored. Mostly, it's a pretty uncomfortable pain.

Spending blog: $14.42 at Albertson's for groceries. $2.14 at Taco Bell for two bean burritos. $7 to see X-Files movie. At any other price I think that I'd feel a bit ripped off. At that price it's OK.

Totally worth it spending

About $15 on brownie bites, chocoloate mini-muffins and grape juice for our Senior Sendoff. It was great to say goodbye to an amazing class of students. With our future in their hands, we've no reason to be anything but optimistic. So Bates, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, St. John's, Oberlin, USC, UCLA watch out. The train of amazing people is coming.

I'd write more, but I'm exhausted and about to fight off an allergy attack.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Resistance is futile

Today's total: $28.87 for a new copy of Watchmen (only $9.99 on, the three most recent Buffy Season 8 comics with bags and boards for each, and shipping.

I will take that total for all that. In the meantime, get excited for this ...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More spending -- again it's all adding up fast

Tuesday: $2 tip for shuttle driver to Tampa airport.

$15 Chili's lunch at the Tampa Airport as I got stuck because of airline delays. This can be reimbursed.

$2 tip in hotel.

Wednesday: $27 for parking at LAX. This will be reimbursed. This proved to be with tip basically equivalent to taking a cab one way to the airport, but I would have needed one both ways since I got delayed a day.

$25 dinner at Good. Yeah, a little expensive, but totally worth it. It was good to drink the edge down from beyond exhaustion. Sadly, the dinner part was a bit weak. The chicken quesadilla wasn't much better than Taco Bell. But the $3 beers were fab.

$90.44 for a pair of new work pants. These were ordered months ago, but didn't ship because of inventory problems. The charge came through upon shipping though.

There's also some grocery charge this morning, but it's not here.

Thursday: $17.32 for a copy of Catch-22.

$3.33 for two Cokes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Am I old, cheap or wise?

So I've been conferencing with reporters for the past two days/nights and no hard drinking, just two scotches with dinner tonight.

Today's tally $15 for the scotches (thank you for dinner, Knight Foundation/Poynter Institute) and $5 for the hotel tip. I still had of last night's $2 Sprite. I definitely need to get to bed before 2:30 a.m. this morning.

I hope they take my freaking shuttle coupon thing tomorrow, dammit.


Last funny thought before I blog about the conference this week ... I was planning to go no shave, since the conference was just a few days (I shaved Sat. morning and the conference went from Sunday evening to Tuesday lunchish). Thus I didn't bring any shaving equipment, specifically my battery powered Gillette five-bladed fusion razor. Well, tonight I realized that my stubble was driving me batshittty. So I got some complimentary shaving cream and a disposable single-blade razor from the hotel.

WHAT A MISTAKE. After each stroke down my admittedly weak-ass Asian beard I could barely tell that I had even taken any hairs off. Consequently I kept going over the same spots again and again ripping off more and more skin but not hair really. After about 10 minutes I was done, my face bloodied and in pain.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

An expensive-ish weekend, emphasis on the ISH

The most expensive thing this weekend will ironically be the $2 Sprite, mainly because that's a ripoff. But that's what happens when you buy a Sprite at a hotel. I did drop $20 on a gift Saturday and then another $28 on a shuttle ride from Tampa Airport to my hotel in St. Pete (even though I was provided with a free-fare coupon). Oh well, that will be reimbursed by work.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I hate Motorla RAZRs

I just bought my third battery for my Product Red RAZR. I hate this phone. Battery one lasted about a year. Battery two has lasted about seven months. I took a flyer on battery three buying it from, an electronics reseller. Reviews for the company have been mixed, with some saying that replacement batteries are old and don't hold much charge. When that has happened recent reviewers say that they get it replaced quickly with a better battery.

The one really good thing ... this battery cost only $10.72. I hope this isn't a total get what you pay for thing.

Traveling isn't cheap

Well, it's not expensive, but there are nickel and dime costs. Target run for travel-sized moisturizer and travel-sized deodorant cost $2ish. Since I'm going to a conference I also picked up a spiral notebook for a whopping 10 CENTS.

Btw, the TSA rules are that fluids need to be in containers that hold 3.5 oz or fewer. My deodorant and facial moisturizer are 4-oz containers. This feels very much like a scam forcing us to buy more things.

Since I was at Target and needed some more snacks, I threw in a bag of Ruffles for $3.50ish. Grand total was $5.70.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hoory for new restaurants near home

Pho Show. A new Vietnamese restaurant on Sepulveda. Double awesome. As usual for Pho, huge portions. But what made this stand out was really fresh chicken and TONS of it in the bowl. I over srirachaed a little (my lips still hurt a little), but very good and very reasonable, also as per usual. And superbonus ... they serve soda imported from Mexico so it's made with cane sugar.

Tonight's total $20, but that's because it was Curtis's birthday so I contributed that much toward our $23.50ish check.

Tomorrow some minimal spending on hopefully travel-sized deodorant and hopefully facial moiturizer and also a small notebook.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm weak, like a lemming

I bought a $3 caramel ice-blended from Coffee Bean today. I was tired and it helped. But still. That's not the model of fiscal discipline. No more coffee this week.


Also, I'm going to my first professional conference Sunday-Tuesday. There are some very accomplished people attending: deans of j-schools, editors of metro newspapers, someone from and me. I feel a bit like the kid with his first invite to the adults' table at Thanksgiving.

One of two women will be my financial ruin

OK, that post title is probably a bit exaggerated. But I know that when Jenny Lewis speaks I buy. In this case, I just pre-ordered a copy of her new CD Acid Tongue (out Sept. 23) from By ordering how from them (and paying extra, with shipping it was $16.49, so probably at least six bucks more than Best Buy will sell it for), I get autographed liner notes.

I bought her solo record, Rabbit Fur Coat, online as well and got a free 7-inch vinyl single, which I'm not able to do anything with, save admire it. That was released on Team Love, Conor Oberst's mini label, so I was happy to work around the retailers and make sure my money went to an indie label and an indie artist.

The new album is on Warner Bros. so there's a lot less incentive to buy online, well, except for the autrographed liner notes.

My other woman is Rachael Yamagata.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Green-friendly? Eco-friendly?

The L.A. Times today had a story about JetBlue Airlines charging $7 for pillows and blankets. In the story the airline tried to put a good spin on the new fee. "According to the airline, the plush pillow is made from a fabric that 'blocks all micro-toxins larger than one micron in size," such as dust mites, mold spores, pollen and pet dander."

That sounded pretty good to me, especially after reading a recent Washington Post article about how germ-infested and dirty the world is. That article said that mattresses double in weight after 10 years because of dander. UGH!

The "blocks all toxins larger than one micron in size" appears to have been lifted directly from CleanRest's website. CleanRest is a company specializing in ultra-healthy linens (like sheets and pillow cases and stuff). From CleanRest's site: "MicronOne™ fabric technology blocks all micro-toxins larger than one micron in size, like dust mites and their waste, mold spore, pollen, pet dander and even bed bugs."

So that sounds pretty great. Keep out the dirty organisms that are trying to co-habitate with me. But then I notice that the CleanRest MicronOne tech is made of 100 percent polyester. That's not cool. That's not very green-friendly, even though JetBlue's rep would have you believe that it is.

According to the L.A. Times: "This state-of-the-art, high-quality take-home kit is an eco-conscious, health-conscious and customer-conscious decision," said Brett Muney, general manager of product development at JetBlue, which is based in Forest Hills, N.Y.

So what am I to do? Buy organic cotton linens? A Google search brings up tons of hawkers, but combining "eco-friendly bed linens" with "antimicrobial" points to Bamboo sheets? But nothing with organic cotton.

Checking out didn't help either. I could find sheets that were organic, Fair Trade and sustainable or swap out Made in the U.S.A. for Fair Trade, but not antimicrobial.

Choices suck.

Monday, August 04, 2008

How quickly I spend

$9 for lunch -- Chicken-cheese at Big Mike's in El Segundo (includes fries and large soda).

$7.80 household stuff -- Eight-pack Target brand paper towels and small bottle Target brand hand-sanitizer to keep in my car.

$2.15 -- Bar Mitzvah card at Hallmark.

$14.11 -- Mini-grocery run at Trader Joe's. Itemizing it: $1.99 for pappardelle pasta noodles; $2.99 for dozen-plus frozen perogis; $3.49 organic thai baked tofu; $2.49 black bean and cheese burrito; $1.16 on organic bananas; $1.99 giant cucumber.

With travel coming up Sunday and Saturday night's dinner already planned, I realized that I could get away with buying fewer groceries this week.

I still have to pay bills today, which include credit cards, car payment and car insurance. But then it's up to me to keep expenses in check for the rest of the month.


Monthly Bills

Credit Card 1: $250 (Paid in full)
Car Insurance: $110 (Paid monthly)
Car Payment: $170 (Paid monthly)
Credit Card 2: $400 (this month's dent)

I still have my cell phone bill, student loan and I think I'm due for another electric bill. And I still have to make my monthly retirement fund transfer. But I'm definitely going to build-up the cushion again.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The glory of change

An article in the L.A. Times yesterday about high-fructose corn syrup versus natural cane sugar got me jonesing for Coca-Cola imported from Mexico, because it's got the cane. So I gave into my urge and bought a bottle (glass, thank you) this afternoon on the way back from skating.

Cost $1.49 but I was able to scrounge up enough change in my car to buy it that I didn't need to open my wallet. This barely felt like an expense. I also turned down getting in on roommate pizza. Though that was less money-driven and more I've-had-a-lot-of-pizza-and-pizza-bagels-lately driven. But I'd be lying if I said money wasn't a factor. Well, not so much the small cash value, but wanting to honor the discipline of avoiding these seemingly small, random expenditures.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tainted results love

Knowing that I'm going to blog all my expenditures this month, I resisted the urge to buy a latté or iced-blended coffee this morning. That saved me probably $3 or $4. If I can avoid Coffee Bean this month I will save probably close to $20 this month. Well, I will probably go once just to redeem my $1 off coupon.

Given that I will be working some 12-hour days this month, I figure that at one point I will NEED the caffiene.

I did throw away a bunch of food today, as something I was trying to make—a crab pasta salad—turned out stomach-turningly wretched.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Spending blog starts now now

During the past year I've been waging an aggressive campaign against my credit card balances. I've gone from several thousand dollars in debt to debt free in about eight months. Hooray! Hooray! In the bitterest of ironies, however, my war had unintended consequences. I was so aggressive in paying off my debt that I spent more than I earned several months in a row, devouring my financial checking account cushion. And now, in the bitterest of ironies I'm back in debt. Last month I got hit with a plane ticket (unexpected holiday travel bargain), car trouble and some big celebrations (planned and extemporaneous) thus rendering me unable to pay off this month's balance.

So in an effort to get my finances under control I am going to chart every expense this month. I figure one of two things happen:

1. I spend as usual and then get humiliated at the end of the month when I see what I've bought and change drastically come September.

2. Knowing that I'm a subject of an experiment I behave differently under observation.

Ultimately, I expect outcome 2.

Without further ado today's grand total was $19. We took our summer intern, Sasha (who is headed to Oberlin. Hooray for Sasha) out to lunch at Kokomo Cafe, the shooting site for the new Peach Pit on the new Beverly Hills 90210. I ordered the excellent fried catfish and eggs breakfast. The menu cost was $10.95 (I think) and I didn't order a drink. But with tax and tip and covering my share of our intern's lunch, the tab rose. Overall, a reasonable expense given that my weekend plans call for zero recreational spending, just groceries and house stuff (paper towels).

My friend Robbie said that he charts his expenses every month by color-coding them—one color for gas, another for food, etc. When fuschia shows up too much, he knows it's been a bad month.