Wednesday, February 13, 2013

AmeriBudgeting

The life of an AmeriCorps participant has it's ups and downs. Dedicating a year of one's life to helping others around you is one of the most awarding and fulfilling things that anyone can do. Despite all of these emotional rewards and personal victories, there are some other things that many members struggle with. The main, glaring difficulty comes in the form of finances.

Coming into AmeriCorps, it is well known that making money is not one of the things that will come as an end result of participating in the program. Over the course of our year of service, we are given about $12,000 in a living stipend to help offset costs, such as rent, utilities, and other bills that life brings with it. This translates to $437 every two weeks, with the check coming at the end of the month earmarked for rent automatically. This reality definitely leaves a lot to be desired. But, luckily with the prevalence of the internet and deals around, living on this budget is do-able.

Tuesday nights are some of the best nights down here in Palm Beach County. There are multiple deals around the county that are not only delicious but kind on the budget. Bar Louie has $1 burgers (with the purchase of a drink) that are delectable! Extra toppings are $.50, so it's very reasonable to have a burger and a drink for $5.00! Deal! There's also an amazing Mexican restaurant in Boca Raton called Uncle Julio's that offers $1 tacos. These tacos, which can be either of the chicken or beef variety, are served hot, succulent, and ready to devour! These deals definitely make Tuesday one of the best days of the week!


Another big thing down here in Southern Florida is frozen yogurt. Now while this craze hasn't quite made it's way to the Midwest yet, it's on its way! There are various froyo (frozen yogurt) shops in the area and they all offer a different variety of flavors and toppings. For those that are unfamiliar with how froyo works, you head into a store, grab your cup and create your own creation from scratch. Then your cup is weighed on a scale and the weight determines how much you pay. It's a great treat to top off a meal or just to socialize with other members. One of the shops, Yogurtland, used to do a BOGO FROYO (Buy One, Get One Frozen Yogurt) night on Tuesdays (another reason why Tuesday's are amazing). Sadly, they discontinued this service about a month ago. However, this definitely has not deterred us from frequenting this establishment at least once a week (more if it's been a stressful week!)



The Internet is also a great source of deals. There are so many websites that curate deals, it's sometime overwhelming to sift through them all and figure out which ones are the best to use and look at. The two most reliable websites that the majority of us use are Groupon and Livingsocial. These sites are easy to navigate and offer lots of deals to please everyone, no matter what their likes and preferences are. We have utilized these sites multiple times for some great deals. Coming up in March, my roommate Kevin and I are participating in a Mud Challenge race (very similar to a Tough Mudder, but not as long or intense). We found this race deal on Groupon and it helped shave about $50 off the original price. Definitely a great deal considering our budget! The beer festival that I went to down in Miami back in October was also a Groupon/Livingsocial deal. What's nice about these two sites is that they normally have the same deals, but tend to run them at different times. So if you happen to miss the deal on Groupon, you can normally count on Livingsocial offering it a week later.

These little tips, plus trying to take advantage of the other things in the area (free Friday night concerts/movie showings, numerous beaches, $5 Thursday movie nights @ the Boynton Beach Mall, and more) help with the budget constraints. At the very least, by the end of this year of service, I will be a much better budgeter and manager of my monetary funds. Thank you AmeriCorps!