A blog about spending wisely in your twenties, with advice on everything from cooking to saving money on gas; how to teach yourself to save money instead of spending it, traveling without breaking the bank, and much more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fair Isaac is Changing the Rules, AGAIN!

Just as soon as I understood how the magical elves calculate credit scores, they had to go change it up on me!

There's some good news and some bad news. No more adding a name to a credit card to boost the score of the person with crappier credit is the bad news. (Yes, this can be a good thing when done properly.) The good news is that one BIG BAD item, such as a repo or a default won't hurt you as much as long as everything else is in order.

Seriously, read more at Consumerism Commentary.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Why You Should at Least Learn to Bake:

My quest for an amazing blueberry muffin recipe has been a thorn in my side for a year or two now. I try (emphasis on try) to bake something for my breakfasts every week. I don't really like cereal in the morning. I do like oatmeal and other hot cereals, but I prefer for my breakfast to be a grab and go affair.  Buying pre-made breakfasts (bagels and the like) is a good plan, and when the price is right, totally affordable. But every time I buy bagels or muffins or another pre made breakfast food, I stare at the big jars of flour and sugar on my counter and sigh.

This week, I finally found an amazing blueberry muffin recipe. These are coffee shop caliber muffins. The only changes I made were to reduce the amount of sugar and flour in the topping (to 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup flour) and to make 12 muffins instead of 8. If you follow this recipe, be sure to cube up the butter for the topping fairly small.

If you live in California and you step into your local Albertson's this week to purchase ingredients for blueberry muffins, here's how much this recipe would run you, per muffin. Except for the Barbie muffin wrappers part. I found those on manager's special at Food 4 Less. You could also jam aluminium foil or wax paper into the muffin pan cups. Or just forgo the wrappers completely.

40 cents a muffin! And that's assuming you haven't shopped around a little for the best ingredient prices. I did, and the batch I made last night probably came in at closer to 25 cents per muffin, meaning that a muffin and a cup of Starbucks coffee made at home runs me about 28 cents total. (We've got a friend who works at Starbucks, he sells/gives us his weekly pound of coffee.)

If I had homemade coffee and a muffin everyday for a year, I'd be paying $102.20 a year to do so. By contrast, spending $3.25 on drip coffee and a muffin at a coffee shop once a week would cost about $169 a year. Homemade coffee and muffin just once a week for a year? $14.56, for me.  Which, if you're still with me, saves $154.44 a year on muffins and coffee.

And the kicker? Once again: homemade coffee and a muffin, every day, for one year, would cost me $102.20. Buying it at a shop, everyday, for a year? $1186.25. That's assuming you're buying a cup of brewed coffee, as opposed to a latte which would bring your yearly coffee and muffins total to about $1825.

And no, I didn't forget a decimal point.