Thursday, April 15, 2010

More about my New Job, Food, Finances, and... Finally, A Garden Update!

In order for this post to entirely make sense, I will start by updating you with what is going on with my new job.  I suspect this may become a bit of a pattern, though I certainly do not intend for it to begin dominating my blog.  This site has always been intended as a way for me to keep track of my homesteading goals and ideas, as well as a motivator for them, and I plan on keeping it so.

As part of my new position, I get to travel up to Phoenix from the 25th of April (my birthday!) until the 1st of May.  I will be training with the Shipper/Receiver at an existing store to get a jump start on what my job is going to require of me so I can hit the ground running when it comes time to get the store ready for Grand Opening.  My company is of course paying me for mileage, travel time, and putting me up in a hotel while I'm there.  They are also providing me with what I thought was a very generous per diem of $50 a day.

Well, I received my per diem check today.  Not only did they provide me $5 a day more than I was expecting to receive, but they also included per diem to me for the Sunday I'm going up, AND the Saturday when I leave to come home.  I was astonished when I opened the envelope containing the check.

Naturally, this per diem is intended to be used for food and incidental expenses.  Fortunately for me, my company does not want me to provide receipts for my food purchases, and they explicitly say that any money I don't spend is for me to keep.  Well, it would be unforgivably gluttonous of me to spend $385 on food for just one week.  Naturally, my plan is to go to the grocery store and purchase groceries for a week like I normally would, which if I am VERY nice to myself might amount to about $100 for the week, and that is with buying copious amounts of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, etc.  I plan on setting aside another $50 so I can go out to dinner with my sister who lives in Phoenix, and maybe another $35 so I can treat myself to a nice sushi dinner somewhere.  In total, that still only amounts to $185, and I'm sure after spending that much on food in one week, I'm going to feel very guilty about it.

Well, this analysis leaves me with a big dilemma.  What am I going to do with the other $200?!  Naturally, it's just going to go into a savings account so that I can start rebuilding that emergency fund and land fund.  And $200 going into my savings today means that I can be slightly more loose with the paycheck I get from Starbucks tomorrow.  So, tonight I went to...

Home Depot!  I decided I finally could afford to buy some soil.  Now I know, Home Depot isn't necessarily the permaculturist's prime choice for where to get soil, but it was open, and I know a fun little (very little) secret about Home Depot.  They actually happen to have some fairly decent organic mixes, and the price of those soils is quite reasonable.  The expensive stuff they have is the crap from Miracle Grow that's all chemical'ed [sic] out.  I also know another (not very big) secret about Home Depot.  If a bag is damaged, they will usually mark it down for you, even if it's barely ripped.

Well, I loaded up seven ripped bags of 3 different kinds of soil, and one each of the same soils that was not ripped so I could be fair and help cover their margin a little.  I went up to the service desk, where a very cute employee named Amber was looking very bored.  I asked her if anyone from the garden department was still working, to which she said no but she could probably help me.  I asked if she could give me a discount on the ripped bags, and she offered me 50% off!  This was fortunate for me, because I had exactly $29 dollars on me, and the total came out to $28.18.  If she would not have offered as much, I would have had to put some back, which would've been embarrassing for me, especially after I flirted with her a little bit.  I paid, promised to bring her back some fresh tomatoes and peppers, and left with my prize.

So, I'm now the proud new owner of about 17.5 cubic feet of various kinds of soil, soil amendment, compost, and manure, all certified organic.  This will get me about half way to where I want to be with one of my 32 sq ft raised beds.  Seeing as how I'm already getting a late start on the planting season for Tucson, I guess this is ok.  I'll make another trip to Home Depot this weekend to see if I can't score a few more ripped bags, ask my friend Myles for some of his leftovers from his greenhouse, and probably have one bed filled up within the week.  It looks like I'm going to get to do some intensive gardening this year after all!

As a final thought, I know I'm playing some accounting tricks to justify buying soil with what most would consider ultimately to be my per diem money.  Well, if you don't buy it, or if you happen to be from corporate and don't like my accounting tricks, then I have this to say (really I'm just justifying it to myself)...  I was provided with that money for food.  I may have, depending on how you look at it, used some of that money to buy soil for my garden instead.  But, the soil in that garden is going to help me grow food for later in the year.  So ultimately, the money is still going toward providing me with food to eat.  It's just later in the year, and at a higher return on my initial investment.  If that doesn't justify it, I don't know what does!  :)  Thanks for reading!


  1. sweet deal! sounds like everything is going very well for you- the job, the soil, the cute cashier, and the per diem all add up to a pretty good week it sounds like. i'd like to see some pics of your beds when they start sprouting.

  2. I will definitely be taking pics! I've talked so much about gardening, and not done anything with it so far, that I don't want everyone to start thinking I'm all talk. I'll probably even post some pics once I get one filled up with soil. So far, even that is an accomplishment for me.