It's rarely argued that Bozeman's a cool place. It's still got that small town feel but is big enough to have all the amenities you'd find in larger cities like big box stores, chains of all kinds and even discount specialty shops. Being a pretty hard core local myself (whatever that means these days), it's sometimes hard for me to spend ALL my money in town.

When it comes to the basics like beer and socializing, no problem. You don't order your Bud Light online. But if I'm being honest about everything else, it boils down to money. I have a pretty good job in town but like most (everyone) I know, there is literally NOTHING left at the end of the month. Nada. Zilch. In fact, I think I've got 20 bucks to get me from today until payday.

The mortgage and the bills always get paid on time, without exception. But the harsh reality of "what's left" is something I deal with all the time. Groceries get purchased wherever they are cheapest and I usually skip my beloved Cheez-Its because $5 for a box of crackers is insulting. The generics are NOT the same for the record.

It seems that EVERY PERSON I KNOW HAS A BIRTHDAY IN THE NEXT 60 DAYS. I am not afraid to do what I have to do. Buy what I can afford and perhaps make the rest. Seeing as though I don't really cook, the "make the rest" part is said only in jest. As much as I'd love to buy all my girlfriends a (small) tube of my favorite hand cream, at $12 a pop it just ain't gonna happen. I love my friends but even a small token of your friendship gets expensive when you want to buy a dozen of them.

Just because I'm broke doesn't mean I don't love my friends and family any less than I did a few years ago. It just means that they may be getting some good will and favors from me instead of gifts I have to go buy.

For the record, I hope my broke-ass friends who are reading this understand and feel the same way. Let's hang out instead of buying things we can't afford. Or, for my few trust fund friends: Go ahead and pick up that box of Cheez-Its. They're my favorite. -m